In fall of 2018, 1st year student Mrithyunjayan Nilayamgode presented a paper at the Northeast Universities Development Consortium (NEUDC) conference on development economics at Cornell University and at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Economic Association (SEA) in Washington, DC. He met and received valuable feedback on his paper from development economists and crime economists from across the world. The NEUDC conference typically accepts around a quarter of the 600-odd submissions it receives, and is one of the premier conferences in development economics in the US. The SEA is one of the oldest economics associations in the US, and was founded by economists affiliated with universities in the southern US, including UVA. Its annual meetings usually involve thousands of papers and participants from dozens of countries across the world.
In his paper titled "Alcohol Ban and Crime: The ABC’s of the Bihar Prohibition", Mrithyunjayan and his co-authors find that alcohol regulation in the Indian state of Bihar has reduced the incidence of violent crimes, but not non-violent crime. These results are concentrated in areas where the ban may have had a larger impact, suggesting that the availability of alcohol had a large role to play. This is in line with the prevalent understanding in economics and psychology that intoxication may impair perception, thereby reducing the barriers of entry into crime. The results are also robust to a number of alternate specifications, including the use of a synthetic control group.