Rubén Poblete-Cazenave

Welcome to my webpage!

I hold a PhD in Economics at University College London. I am an Applied Microeconomist working on topics in the intersection of Political Economy and Development Economics.

I use a theoretical and empirical approach to study questions on political misbehavior, abuse of power and crime, how they impact on the economy and the role that institutions play in preventing this. I use clear identification strategies as well as techniques such as machine learning and natural language processing to construct novel datasets.

I will be joining Erasmus School of Economics as a Post-Doctoral Scholar in August 2020.

  • New:

The Great Lockdown and Criminal Activity - Evidence from Bihar, India

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in over 2 billion people in the world affected by lockdowns. This has significant socioeconomic implications, especially in areas such as crime, where police resources are diverted from crime prevention towards enforcing lockdowns. Also, mobility restrictions imposed by lockdowns might make it harder for criminals to find victims. The net effect of these opposite forces is unknown. This study analyzes the effect of lockdowns on criminal activity in the state of Bihar, India. A sharp regression discontinuity design is implemented harnessing the sudden introduction of a state-wide lockdown and novel high-frequency criminal case data. The results show that lockdown decreases aggregate crime by 44 percent. Negative large effects are observed in diverse types of crimes such as murder (61 percent), theft (63 percent), and crimes against women (64 percent), among others. This seems to be driven by the higher search costs faced by criminals. Finally, by exploiting geographic variation in terms of lockdowns' severity across districts, this study shows that relaxing lockdowns' initial restrictions increase crime, but the increment is lower in less restrictive lockdowns than in restrictive ones. While economically-motivated crimes increased, violent crimes were not impacted. This suggests that the economic downturn produced by the lockdown might be driving these effects. Policy recommendations are discussed.