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Peaceable kingdoms and war zones: Pre-emption, ballistics and murder in Newark

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  • Brendan O'Flaherty

    ()
    (Columbia University - Department of Economics)

  • Rajiv Sethi

    ()
    (Barnard College, Columbia University)

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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Columbia University, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 0708-02.

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Length: 63 pages
Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:clu:wpaper:0708-02

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  1. 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.
  2. Sandeep Baliga & David Lucca & Tomas Sjostrom, 2009. "Domestic Political Survival and International Conflict: Is Democracy Good for Peace?," Departmental Working Papers 200907, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  3. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2002. "The Social Multiplier," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1968, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  5. Brendan O'Flaherty & Rajiv Sethi, 2007. "Witness intimidation," Discussion Papers 0708-07, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  6. Freeman, Scott & Grogger, Jeffrey & Sonstelie, Jon, 1996. "The Spatial Concentration of Crime," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 216-231, September.
  7. 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.
  8. repec:cdl:ucsdec:557466 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Anne Morrison Piehl & Suzanne J. Cooper & Anthony A. Braga & David M. Kennedy, 2003. "Testing for Structural Breaks in the Evaluation of Programs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 550-558, August.
  10. 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.
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  12. Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sj–str–m, 2004. "Arms Races and Negotiations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(2), pages 351-369, 04.
  13. Gaviria, Alejandro, 2000. "Increasing returns and the evolution of violent crime: the case of Colombia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 1-25, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Bjerk, David, 2010. "Thieves, thugs, and neighborhood poverty," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 231-246, November.
  2. 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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