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CentrePiece article

Dark web: the economics of online drugs markets


The online market for buying and selling drugs is resilient and seems to bounce back rapidly after the exit of a large platform like Silk Road. That is one of the findings of research by Stephen Machin and colleagues, who have collected and analysed information on around 1.5 million drugs transactions on the so-called ‘dark web’ to understand the economic functioning of these markets. The researchers also find that only a small minority of online drugs deals receive bad ratings from buyers; and sellers that do receive bad ratings typically experience significant sales reductions. The study concludes that in the ‘war on drugs’, law enforcement needs more resources and better means to tackle drug buying and selling in the cyber domain.


V. Bhaskar, Robin Linacre and Stephen Machin

1 November 2017     Paper Number CEPCP514

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This CentrePiece article is published under the centre's Community Wellbeing programme.