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Racial stereotypes and robbery

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  • O'Flaherty, Brendan
  • Sethi, Rajiv

Abstract

Robbery is a serious, widespread and sometimes violent crime resulting each year in costs to victims of several billion dollars. Data on the incidence of robbery reveals certain striking racial disparities. African-Americans are more likely to be victims, arrestees and prisoners than are members of other demographic groups, and while black-on-white robberies are very common, white-on-black robberies are extremely rare. The disparities for robbery are also much greater than those for other crimes of acquisition. We develop a model of robbery that attempts to address these and other stylized facts. Robberies are typically interactions between strangers that involve a sequence of rapid decisions with severely limited information. Potential offenders must assess the likelihood of victim resistance, and victims must assess the likelihood that resistance will be met with violence. Racial disparities in the distribution of income can cause such probability assessments to be race-contingent, affecting crime rates as well as rates of resistance and violence. We argue that this model helps account for several empirical regularities that appear puzzling from the perspective of alternative theories of crime.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 68 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3-4 (December)
Pages: 511-524

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:68:y:2008:i:3-4:p:511-524

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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Keywords: Robbery Stereotypes Statistical Discrimination;

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References

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  1. Shubham Chaudhuri & Rajiv Sethi, 2008. "Statistical Discrimination with Peer Effects: Can Integration Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(2), pages 579-596.
  2. Akerlof, George A, 1976. "The Economics of Caste and of the Rat Race and Other Woeful Tales," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 599-617, November.
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  5. Coate, S. & Loury, G.C., 1992. "Will Affirmative Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," Papers 3, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  6. O'Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2007. "Crime and segregation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(3-4), pages 391-405.
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  12. Witte, Ann Dryden, 1980. "Estimating the Economic Model of Crime with Individual Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 57-84, February.
  13. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do About It?," NBER Working Papers 5451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Sah, Raaj K, 1991. "Social Osmosis and Patterns of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1272-95, December.
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  16. Michael Grossman & Sara Markowitz, 1999. "Alcohol Regulation and Violence on College Campuses," NBER Working Papers 7129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Kim, Young Chul & Loury, Glenn, 2009. "Group Reputation and the Dynamics of Statistical Discrimination," MPRA Paper 18765, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. O'Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2010. "The racial geography of street vice," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 270-286, May.
  3. O'Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2010. "Homicide in black and white," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 215-230, November.

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