Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime
AbstractPrevious estimates of the effect of unemployment on crime commonly omit determinants of criminal behavior that vary with the business cycle, creating correlation between unemployment rates and the residuals in aggregate crime regressions. In this paper, we employ several strategies that attempt to minimize or break this correlation and eliminate the accompanying omitted variables bias to estimates of the effect of unemployment on crime. Using a state-level panel for the period from 1970 to 1993, we explore the sensitivity of crime-unemployment elasticity estimates to explicit controls for per-capita alcohol consumption, a factor that has been shown in the past to be pro-cyclical and a partial determinant of criminal behavior. In addition, we use prime defense contracts per-capita at the state level as an instrument for state unemployment rates. Both controlling for alcohol consumption and using instrumental variables to correct for omitted variables bias yields large effects of unemployment on the seven felony offenses recorded by the Department of Justice. Moreover, in contrast to previous research, we find significant and sizable positive effects of unemployment on the rates of specific violent, as well as property crimes.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 2129.
Date of creation: Apr 1999
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820
Other versions of this item:
- Raphael, Steven & WINTER-EBMER, RUDOLF, 1998. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt5hb4h56g, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
- J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Grogger, Jeff, 1998.
"Market Wages and Youth Crime,"
Journal of Labor Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 756-91, October.
- Ruhm, Christopher J., 1995.
"Economic conditions and alcohol problems,"
Journal of Health Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 583-603, December.
- Christopher J. Ruhm, 1996.
"Are Recessions Good For Your Health?,"
NBER Working Papers
5570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Nagin, Daniel & Waldfogel, Joel, 1995. "The effects of criminality and conviction on the labor market status of young British offenders," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 109-126, January.
- Corman, Hope & Joyce, Theodore & Lovitch, Norman, 1987. "Crime, Deterrence and the Business Cycle in New York City: A VAR Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(4), pages 695-700, November.
- Viscusi, W Kip, 1986. "The Risks and Rewards of Criminal Activity: A Comprehensive Test of Criminal Deterrence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 317-40, July.
- Entorf, Horst & Spengler, Hannes, 1998.
"Socio-economic and demographic factors of crime in Germany: evidence from panel data of the German states,"
ZEW Discussion Papers
98-16, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
- Entorf, Horst & Spengler, Hannes, 2000. "Socioeconomic and demographic factors of crime in Germany: Evidence from panel data of the German states," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 75-106, March.
- Papps, Kerry L. & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Unemployment and Crime: New Answers to an Old Question," IZA Discussion Papers 25, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Hooker, Mark A & Knetter, Michael M, 1997. "The Effects of Military Spending on Economic Activity: Evidence from State Procurement Spending," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(3), pages 400-421, August.
- Witte, Ann D & Tauchen, Helen, 1994. "Work and Crime: An Exploration Using Panel Data," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 155-67.
- Steven J. Davis & Prakash Loungani & Ramamohan Mahidhara, 1997.
"Regional labor fluctuations: oil shocks, military spending, and other driving forces,"
International Finance Discussion Papers
578, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Steven J. Davis & Prakash Lougani & Ramamohan Mahidhara, 1997. "Regional Labor Fluctuations: Oil Shocks, Military Spending, and Other Driving Forces," JCPR Working Papers 4, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
- Lott, John R, Jr & Mustard, David B, 1997. "Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-68, January.
- Freeman, Scott & Grogger, Jeffrey & Sonstelie, Jon, 1996. "The Spatial Concentration of Crime," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 216-231, September.
- Steven D. Levitt, 1995.
"The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence From Prison Overcrowding Litigation,"
NBER Working Papers
5119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Levitt, Steven D, 1996. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence from Prison Overcrowding Litigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 319-51, May.
- Ann Dryden Witte & Helen Tauchen, 1994. "Work and Crime: An Exploration Using Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 4794, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Steven D. Levitt, 1995.
"Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Policeon Crime,"
NBER Working Papers
4991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-90, June.
- Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
- Grogger, Jeffrey, 1995. "The Effect of Arrests on the Employment and Earnings of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 51-71, February.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.