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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: Vol. 1 No. 3 (July 2009)

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The Smuggling of Art, and the Art of Smuggling: Uncovering the Illicit Trade in Cultural Property and Antiques

Article Citation

Fisman, Raymond, and Shang-Jin Wei. 2009. "The Smuggling of Art, and the Art of Smuggling: Uncovering the Illicit Trade in Cultural Property and Antiques." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 1(3): 82-96.

DOI: 10.1257/app.1.3.82

Abstract

We empirically analyze the illicit trade in cultural property and antiques, taking advantage of different reporting incentives between source and destination countries. We generate a measure of illicit trafficking in these goods by comparing imports recorded in United States' customs data and the (purportedly identical) trade recorded by customs authorities in exporting countries. This reporting gap is highly correlated with corruption levels of exporting countries. This correlation is stronger for artifact-rich countries. As a placebo test, we do not observe any such pattern for US imports of toys. We report similar results for four other Western country markets. (JEL F14, K42, Z11, Z13)

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Authors

Fisman, Raymond (Columbia U)
Wei, Shang-Jin (Columbia U)

JEL Classifications

F14: Country and Industry Studies of Trade
K42: Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
Z11: Cultural Economics: Economics of the Arts and Literature
Z13: Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology

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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics


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