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Does the certainty of arrest reduce domestic violence? Evidence from mandatory and recommended arrest laws

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  • Iyengar, Radha
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    Abstract

    Domestic violence remains a major public policy concern despite two decades of policy intervention. To eliminate police inaction in response to domestic violence, many states have passed mandatory arrest laws, which require the police to arrest abusers when a domestic violence incident is reported. Using the FBI Supplementary Homicide Reports, I find that mandatory arrest laws actually increased intimate partner homicides. I discuss two potential mechanisms for this increase in homicides: decreased reporting by victims and increased reprisal by abusers. I investigate validity of these hypotheses by examining the effect of mandatory arrest laws on different sub-groups and by analyzing family homicides where the victim is less often responsible for reporting. There appears to be consistent evidence for the reporting mechanisms. For family homicides, mandatory arrest laws appear to reduce the number of homicides. This study therefore provides evidence that these laws may have perverse effects on intimate partner violence, harming the very people they seek to help.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

    Volume (Year): 93 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 1-2 (February)
    Pages: 85-98

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:93:y:2009:i:1-2:p:85-98

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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    Keywords: Domestic violence Mandatory arrest Spousal homicide Crime policy;

    References

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    1. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," NBER Working Papers 10175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Amy Farmer & Jill Tiefenthaler, 2003. "Explaining the Recent Decline in Domestic Violence," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 21(2), pages 158-172, 04.
    3. Fisher, Franklin M, 1970. "Tests of Equality Between Sets of Coefficients in Two Linear Regressions: An Expository Note," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 38(2), pages 361-66, March.
    4. Tauchen, Helen & Witte, Ann Dryden, 1995. "The Dynamics of Domestic Violence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 414-18, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Averett, Susan L. & Wang, Yang, 2014. "Identifying the Causal Effect of Alcohol Abuse on the Perpetration of Intimate Partner Violence by Men Using a Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 7996, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Mani, Anandi & Iyer, Lakshmi & Mishra, Prachi & Topalova, Petia, 2011. "The Power of Political Voice: Women's Political Representation and Crime in India," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 63, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    3. Braakmann, Nils, 2013. "Deterrence and age thresholds in punishment in British criminal law," MPRA Paper 44886, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Anderberg, Dan & Rainer, Helmut & Wadsworth, Jonathan & Wilson, Tanya, 2013. "Unemployment and Domestic Violence: Theory and Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 7515, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. David Card & Gordon Dahl, 2009. "Family Violence and Football: The Effect of Unexpected Emotional Cues on Violent Behavior," NBER Working Papers 15497, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Frank Sloan & Alyssa Platt & Lindsey Chepke & Claire Blevins, 2013. "Deterring domestic violence: Do criminal sanctions reduce repeat offenses?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 51-80, February.
    7. Sheetal Sekhri & Adam Storeygard, 2013. "Dowry Deaths: Consumption Smoothing in Response to Climate Variability in India," Virginia Economics Online Papers 407, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.

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