On the political economy of income redistribution and crime
We study a one-sector growth model which is standard except for the presence of an externality in the production function. The set of competitive equilibria is large. It includes constant equilibria, sunspot equilibria, cyclical and chaotic equilibria, and equilibria with deterministic or stochastic regime switching. The efficient allocation is characterized by constant employment and a constant growth rate. We identify an income tax-subsidy schedule that supports the efficient allocation as the unique equilibrium outcome. That schedule has two properties: (i) it specifies the tax rate to be ...
Testing economic hypotheses with state-level data: a comment on Donohue and Levitt (2001)
State-level data are often used in the empirical research of both macroeconomists and microeconomists. Using data that follows states over time allows economists to hold constant a host of potentially confounding factors that might contaminate an assignment of cause and effect. A good example is a fascinating paper by Donohue and Levitt (2001, henceforth DL), which purports to show that hypothetical individuals resulting from aborted fetuses, had they been born and developed into youths, would have been more likely to commit crimes than youths resulting from fetuses carried to term. We ...
'Captive markets': the impact of kidnappings on corporate investment in Colombia
This paper measures the impact of crime on firm investment by exploiting variation in kidnappings in Colombia from 1996 to 2002. Our central result is that firms invest less when kidnappings directly target firms. We also find that broader forms of crime--homicides, guerrilla attacks, and general kidnappings--have no significant effect on investment. This finding alleviates concerns that our main result may be driven by unobserved variables that explain both overall criminal activity and investment. Furthermore, kidnappings that target firms reduce not only the investment of firms that sell ...
Crime and the labor market: a search model with optimal contracts
This paper extends the Pissarides (2000) model of the labor market to include crime and punishment `a la Becker (1968). All workers, irrespective of their labor force status can commit crimes and the employment contract is determined optimally. The model is used to study, analytically and quantitatively, the effects of various labor market and crime policies. For instance, a more generous unemployment insurance system reduces the crime rate of the unemployed but its effect on the crime rate of the employed depends on job duration and jail sentences. When the model is calibrated to U.S. data, ...
Alternatives to youth incarceration
Practitioners and policymakers across the country are recognizing that alternatives to youth incarceration can yield better outcomes not only for youth and communities, but also for taxpayers.
Understanding the determinants of crime
In this paper, we use an overlapping generations model where individuals are allowed to engage in both legitimate market activities and criminal behavior in order to assess the role of certain factors on the property crime rate. In particular, we investigate if any of the following could be capable of generating the large differences in crime rates that are observed across countries: differences in the unemployment rate, the fraction of low-human-capital individuals in an economy, the probability of apprehension, the duration of jail sentences, and income inequality. We find that small ...
Economics and crime in the states
Polls identify crime as the number one public worry. Crime also exacts tremendous costs not factored into official measures of well-being, and it is a favorite subject of political campaign promises. However, the public seems largely unaware that crime responds to economic conditions and incentives and that the results of a substantial body of work by economists have important implications for public policy. ; This article introduces the economics and crime literature by describing a simple supply-and-demand crime model in which criminals supply crime, the public demands protection from ...
Crime and arrests: deterrence or resource reallocation?
We use monthly time-series data for 20 large U.S. cities to test the deterrence hypothesis (arrests reduce crimes) and the resource reallocation hypothesis (arrests follow from an increase in crime). We find (1) weak support for the deterrence hypothesis, (2) much stronger support for the resource reallocation hypothesis, and (3) differences in city-level estimates suggest much heterogeneity in the crime and arrest relationship across regions.
Blowing it up and knocking it down: the effect of demolishing high concentration public housing on crime
Despite popular accounts that link public housing demolitions to spatial redistribution of crime, and possible increases in crime, little systematic research has analyzed the neighborhood or citywide impact of demolitions on crime. In Chicago, which has conducted the largest public housing demolition program in the United States, I find that public housing demolitions are associated with a 10 percent to 20 percent reduction in murder, assault, and robbery in neighborhoods where the demolitions occurred. Furthermore, violent crime rates fell by about the same amount in neighborhoods that ...