Rainfall, Poverty and Crime in 19th Century Germany
AbstractWe estimate the impact of poverty on crime in 19th century Bavaria, Germany. Rainfall is used as an instrumental variable for the price of rye to address identification problems found in the existing literature. The rye price was a major determinant of the cost of living and poverty during this period. The rye price has a positive and statistically significant effect on property crime: a one standard deviation increase in the rye price increased property crime by a moderate 8 percent, a result similar to recent findings from the contemporary U.S. This result is robust to another poverty measure (the real wage), and when we restrict attention to lagged rainfall measures as instruments – ruling out some possible violations of the exclusion restriction. OLS estimates are twice as large as instrumental variable estimates. Higher rye prices lead to significantly less violent crime, though, and we argue that higher beer prices (caused by higher rye prices) are a likely explanation. We discuss implications for economic theories of crime, and for public policy in less developed countries today.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Oslo University, Department of Economics in its series Memorandum with number 04/2004.
Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 15 Jan 2004
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
Phone: 22 85 51 27
Fax: 22 85 50 35
Web page: http://www.oekonomi.uio.no/indexe.html
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Poverty; Crime; Rainfall; Germany;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- N93 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: Pre-1913
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