NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Nitin Sekar

Princeton University
106A Guyot Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-2016

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

June 2016Does Legalization Reduce Black Market Activity? Evidence from a Global Ivory Experiment and Elephant Poaching Data
with Solomon Hsiang: w22314
Black markets are estimated to represent a fifth of global economic activity, but their response to policy is poorly understood because participants systematically hide their actions. It is widely hypothesized that relaxing trade bans in illegal goods allows legal supplies to competitively displace illegal supplies, but a richer economic theory provides more ambiguous predictions. Here we evaluate the first major global legalization experiment in an internationally banned market, where a monitoring system established before the experiment enables us to observe the behavior of illegal suppliers before and after. International trade of ivory was banned in 1989, with global elephant poaching data collected by field researchers since 2003. A one-time legal sale of ivory stocks in 2008 was desi...
 
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