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Violence and the U.S. Prohibition of Drugs and Alcohol

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  • Jeffrey A. Miron

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Abstract

Among the many unresolved questions regarding the determinants of violence is the role of prohibitions against drugs and alcohol. Conventional wisdom holds that consumption of these goods encourages violence and that prohibitions discourage such consumption; thus, prohibitions reduce violence. An alternative view, however, is that prohibitions create black markets, and in black markets participants use violence to resolve commercial disputes. Thus, prohibitions potentially increase violence. This paper examines the relation between prohibitions and violence using the historical behavior of the homicide rate in the United States. The results document that increases in enforcement of drug and alcohol prohibition have been associated with increases in the homicide rate, and auxiliary evidence suggests this positive correlation reflects a causal effect of prohibition enforcement on homicide. Controlling for other potential determinants of the homicide rate -- the age composition of the population, the incarceration rate, economic conditions, gun availability, and the death penalty -- does not alter the conclusion that drug and alcohol prohibition have substantially raised the homicide rate in the United States over much of the past 100 years.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Boston University - Industry Studies Programme in its series Papers with number 0090.

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Date of creation: Aug 1998
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Handle: RePEc:fth:bostin:0090

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Postal: Boston University, Industry Studies Program; Department of Economics, 270 Bay Road, Boston, Massachusetts 02215.
Phone: 617-353-4389
Fax: 617-353-444
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Web page: http://www.bu.edu/econ/isp/
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References

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  1. Gary S. Becker & Michael Grossman & Kevin M. Murphy, 1994. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," NBER Working Papers 3322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Mudambi, Ram & Paul, Chris, 2003. "Domestic drug prohibition as a source of foreign institutional instability: an analysis of the multinational extralegal enterprise," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 335-349.
  2. World Bank, 2010. "Crime and Violence in Central America : A Development Challenge - Executive Summary," World Bank Other Operational Studies 2979, The World Bank.
  3. Adam Jacobsson & Alberto Naranjo, 2009. "Counter-intuitive effects of domestic law enforcement policies in the United States," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 323-343, November.
  4. Ilyana Kuziemko & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "An Empirical Analysis of Imprisoning Drug Offenders," NBER Working Papers 8489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Caulkins, Jonathan P. & Reuter, Peter, 2006. "Illicit drug markets and economic irregularities," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-14, March.
  6. Robert T. Burrus, Jr., 2006. "The Impact of Weight-Based Penalties on Drug Purity and Consumption: A Theoretical Analysis," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 629-646, Fall.
  7. Carlos Dobkin & Nancy Nicosia, 2009. "The War on Drugs: Methamphetamine, Public Health, and Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 324-49, March.
  8. 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.
  9. Angela K. Dills, 2004. "Alcohol Prohibition and Cirrhosis," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 285-318.
  10. repec:ese:iserwp:2013-08 is not listed on IDEAS

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