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Environmental Policy as Social Policy? The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime

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  • Jessica Wolpaw Reyes
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    Abstract

    Childhood lead exposure can lead to psychological deficits that are strongly associated with aggressive and criminal behavior. In the late 1970s in the United States, lead was removed from gasoline under the Clean Air Act. Using the sharp state-specific reductions in lead exposure resulting from this removal, this article finds that the reduction in childhood lead exposure in the late 1970s and early 1980s is responsible for significant declines in violent crime in the 1990s, and may cause further declines into the future. The elasticity of violent crime with respect to lead is estimated to be approximately 0.8.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13097.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13097.

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    Date of creation: May 2007
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    Publication status: published as Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, 2007. "Environmental Policy as Social Policy? The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Berkeley Electronic Press, vol. 7(1).
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13097

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    1. Cutler, David & Vigdor, Jacob & Glaeser, Edward, 1999. "The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto," Scholarly Articles 2770033, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    2. Roland G. Fryer & Paul S. Heaton & Steven D. Levitt & Kevin M. Murphy, 2005. "Measuring the Impact of Crack Cocaine," NBER Working Papers 11318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. John Donohue & Steven Levitt, 2000. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," NBER Working Papers 8004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. John J. Donohue, III & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    5. Jeff Grogger & Michael Willis, 2000. "The Emergence Of Crack Cocaine And The Rise In Urban Crime Rates," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 519-529, November.
    6. 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.
    7. Ted Joyce, 2001. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," NBER Working Papers 8319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 1999. "Why Is There More Crime in Cities?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S225-S258, December.
    9. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Further Tests of Abortion and Crime," NBER Working Papers 10564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    11. Hilton, F. G. Hank & Levinson, Arik, 1998. "Factoring the Environmental Kuznets Curve: Evidence from Automotive Lead Emissions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 126-141, March.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Lead Contamination in Urban Gardens
      by Matthew E. Kahn in Environmental and Urban Economics on 2009-05-14 15:45:00
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    Cited by:
    1. Nunley, John M. & Seals, Richard Alan & Zietz, Joachim, 2011. "Demographic change, macroeconomic conditions, and the murder rate: The case of the United States, 1934–2006," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 942-948.
    2. John M. Nunley & Richard Alan Seals & Joachim Zietz, 2010. "Demographic Change, Macroeconomic Conditions, and the Murder Rate: The Case of the United States, 1934 to 2006," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2010-04, Department of Economics, Auburn University.
    3. Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, 2010. "Economical Crime Control," NBER Working Papers 16513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Pope, Devin G. & Pope, Jaren C., 2012. "Crime and property values: Evidence from the 1990s crime drop," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 177-188.
    5. Theodore J. Joyce, 2009. "Abortion and Crime: A Review," NBER Working Papers 15098, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Ferrie, Joseph P. & Rolf, Karen & Troesken, Werner, 2012. "Cognitive disparities, lead plumbing, and water chemistry: Prior exposure to water-borne lead and intelligence test scores among World War Two U.S. Army enlistees," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 98-111.
    7. Hjalmarsson, Randi & Lindquist, Matthew J., 2011. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations in Crime: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," Working Paper Series 11/2011, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    8. Angela K. Dills & Jeffrey A. Miron & Garrett Summers, 2008. "What Do Economists Know About Crime?," NBER Working Papers 13759, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Matthew E. Kahn, 2010. "New Evidence on Trends in the Cost of Urban Agglomeration," NBER Chapters, in: Agglomeration Economics, pages 339-354 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Dave E. Marcotte & Sara Markowitz, 2009. "A Cure for Crime? Psycho-Pharmaceuticals and Crime Trends," NBER Working Papers 15354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Christopher R. Knittel & Douglas L. Miller & Nicholas J. Sanders, 2011. "Caution, Drivers! Children Present: Traffic, Pollution, and Infant Health," Working Papers 1113, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.

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