The road to safety- Examining the nexus between road infrastructure and crime in rural India
Ritika Jain and
Papers from arXiv.org
This study examines the relationship between road infrastructure and crime rate in rural India using a nationally representative survey. On the one hand, building roads in villages may increase connectivity, boost employment, and lead to better living standards, reducing criminal activities. On the other hand, if the benefits of roads are non-uniformly distributed among villagers, it may lead to higher inequality and possibly higher crime. We empirically test the relationship using the two waves of the Indian Human Development Survey. We use an instrumental variable estimation strategy and observe that building roads in rural parts of India has reduced crime. The findings are robust to relaxing the strict instrument exogeneity condition and using alternate measures. On exploring the pathways, we find that improved street lighting, better public bus services and higher employment are a few of the direct potential channels through which road infrastructure impedes crime. We also find a negative association between villages with roads and various types of inequality measures confirming the broad economic benefits of roads. Our study also highlights that the negative impact of roads on crime is more pronounced in states with weaker institutions and higher income inequality.
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