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Youth Gangs as Pseudo-Governments Implications for Violent Crime

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  • Russell S. Sobel

    ()
    (Department of Economics, P.O. Box 6025, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506-6025, USA)

  • Brian J. Osoba

    ()
    (Department of Economics, 208 RVAC, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT 06050, USA;)

Abstract

We hypothesize that the failure of government to protect the rights of individuals from violence committed by youths has led to the formation of youth gangs as protective agencies. Our theory predicts an opposite direction of causality between gang activity and violent crime from what is widely accepted. While areas with more gang activity also have more violence, our results suggest that gangs form as protection agencies precisely in areas with high violent crime rates. While gangs, like governments, use violence to enforce rules, the net impact of gangs is likely to lower violent crime. We test this hypothesis and offer policy implications.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Southern Economic Association in its journal Southern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 75 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (April)
Pages: 996-1018

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Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:75:4:y:2009:p:996-1018

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Cited by:
  1. James Kostelnik & David Skarbek, 2013. "The governance institutions of a drug trafficking organization," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 95-103, July.
  2. Seals, Richard Alan & Stern, Liliana V., 2013. "Cognitive ability and the division of labor in urban ghettos: Evidence from gang activity in U.S. data," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 140-149.
  3. T. Randolph Beard & Richard Alan Seals Jr. & Michael L. Stern, 2014. "Security and Government Credibility," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Auburn University auwp2014-07, Department of Economics, Auburn University.
  4. Powell, Benjamin & Stringham, Edward P., 2008. "Public Choice and the Economic Analysis of Anarchy: A Survey," Working Papers, Suffolk University, Department of Economics 2008-7, Suffolk University, Department of Economics.
  5. Entorf, Horst, 2012. "Certainty and Severity of Sanctions in Classical and Behavioral Models of Deterrence: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 6516, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Skarbek, David, 2012. "Prison gangs, norms, and organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 96-109.
  7. Mulholland, Sean E., 2011. "Hate Source: White Supremacist Hate Groups and Hate Crime," MPRA Paper 28861, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Daniel D’Amico, 2012. "Comparative political economy when anarchism is on the table," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 63-75, March.
  9. Entorf, Horst, 2013. "Criminal Victims, Victimized Criminals, or Both? A Deeper Look at the Victim-Offender Overlap," IZA Discussion Papers 7686, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Daniel D’Amico, 2010. "The prison in economics: private and public incarceration in Ancient Greece," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 145(3), pages 461-482, December.
  11. Sean Mulholland, 2013. "White supremacist groups and hate crime," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 91-113, October.

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