The Impact of Lockdowns on Crime and Violence Against Women – Evidence From India

25 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2020 Last revised: 5 May 2021

See all articles by Rubén Poblete-Cazenave

Rubén Poblete-Cazenave

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE); Tinbergen Institute

Date Written: June 8, 2020


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.

This study analyzes the effect of lockdowns and their severity on crime and violence against women in 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 a sharp decrease in aggregate crime produced by the lockdown. Over 60 per cent reductions are observed in diverse types of crimes such as murder, theft, and crimes against women, 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.

Keywords: Crime, lockdown, COVID-19, violence against women

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Poblete-Cazenave, Rubén, The Impact of Lockdowns on Crime and Violence Against Women – Evidence From India (June 8, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Rubén Poblete-Cazenave (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam, NL 3062 PA

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA

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