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Peaceable Kingdoms and War Zones: Preemption, Ballistics and Murder in Newark

In: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America

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  • Brendan O’Flaherty
  • Rajiv Sethi

Abstract

Between 2000 and 2006 the murder rate in Newark doubled while the national rate remained essentially constant. Newark now has eight times as many murders per capita than the nation as a whole. Furthermore, the increase in murders came about through an increase in lethality: total gun discharges rose much more slowly than the likelihood of death per shooting. In order to explain these trends we develop a theoretical model of murder in which preemptive killing and weapon choice play a central role. Strategic complementarity amplifies changes in fundamentals, so areas with high murder rates (war zones) respond much more strongly to changes in fundamentals than those with low murder rates (peaceable kingdoms). In Newark, the changes in fundamentals that set off the spiral were a collapsing arrest rate (and probably a falling conviction rate), a reduction in prisoners, and a shrinking police force.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Rafael Di Tella & Sebastian Edwards & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2010. "The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dite09-1.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11847.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11847

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    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2002. "The Social Multiplier," NBER Working Papers 9153, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. repec:cdl:ucsdec:557466 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sjostrom, 2001. "Arms Races and Negotiations," Economics Working Papers 0007, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
    4. Cooper, Suzanne & Piehl, Anne Morrison & Braga, Anthony & Kennedy, David, 2001. "Testing for Structural Breaks in the Evaluation of Programs," Working Paper Series rwp01-019, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    5. Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sj�str�m, 2004. "Arms Races and Negotiations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 351-369.
    6. Lawrence Katz & Steven D. Levitt & Ellen Shustorovich, 2003. "Prison Conditions, Capital Punishment, and Deterrence," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 318-343, August.
    7. Gaviria, Alejandro, 1998. "Increasing Returns and the Evolution of Violent Crime: The Case of Columbia," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt6x42726z, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
    8. H. Naci Mocan & Hope Corman, 2000. "A Time-Series Analysis of Crime, Deterrence, and Drug Abuse in New York City," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 584-604, June.
    9. Levitt, Steven D, 1998. "Why Do Increased Arrest Rates Appear to Reduce Crime: Deterrence, Incapacitation, or Measurement Error?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 353-72, July.
    10. Sandeep Baliga & David O. Lucca & Tomas Sjöström, 2011. "Domestic Political Survival and International Conflict: Is Democracy Good for Peace?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(2), pages 458-486.
    11. Brendan O'Flaherty & Rajiv Sethi, 2007. "Witness intimidation," Discussion Papers 0708-07, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
    12. Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Paul H. Rubin & Joanna M. Shepherd, 2003. "Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Postmoratorium Panel Data," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 344-376, August.
    13. Freeman, Scott & Grogger, Jeffrey & Sonstelie, Jon, 1996. "The Spatial Concentration of Crime," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 216-231, September.
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    Cited by:
    1. O'Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2010. "Homicide in black and white," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 215-230, November.
    2. Bjerk, David, 2009. "Thieves, Thugs, and Neighborhood Poverty," IZA Discussion Papers 4470, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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