Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

What Do Economists Know About Crime?

Contents:

Author Info

  • Angela K. Dills
  • Jeffrey A. Miron
  • Garrett Summers

Abstract

In this paper we evaluate what economists have learned over the past 40 years about the determinants of crime. We base our evaluation on two kinds of evidence: an examination of aggregate data over long time periods and across countries, and a critical review of the literature. We argue that economists know little about the empirically relevant determinants of crime. Even hypotheses that find some support in U.S. data for recent decades are inconsistent with data over longer horizons or across countries. This conclusion applies both to policy variables like arrest rates or capital punishment and to less conventional factors such as abortion or gun laws. The hypothesis that drug prohibition generates violence, however, is generally consistent with the long times-series and cross-country facts. This analysis is also consistent with a broader perspective in which government policies that affect the nature and amount of dispute resolution play an important role in determining violence.

Download Info

If 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.
File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13759.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13759.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as What Do Economists Know about Crime? , Angela K. Dills, Jeffrey A. Miron, Garrett Summers. in The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America , Di Tella, Edwards, and Schargrodsky. 2010
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13759

Note: LE
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
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.:
as in new window
  1. Klick, Jonathan & Tabarrok, Alexander, 2005. "Using Terror Alert Levels to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 267-79, April.
  2. Joanna M. Shepherd, 2004. "Murders of Passion, Execution Delays, and the Deterrence of Capital Punishment," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 283-321, 06.
  3. Helland Eric & Tabarrok Alexander, 2004. "Using Placebo Laws to Test "More Guns, Less Crime"," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-9, January.
  4. Leo H. Kahane & David Paton & Rob Simmons, 2008. "The Abortion-Crime Link: Evidence from England and Wales," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(297), pages 1-21, 02.
  5. Mirko Draca & Stephen Machin & Robert Witt, 2011. "Panic on the Streets of London: Police, Crime, and the July 2005 Terror Attacks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2157-81, August.
  6. Radha Iyengar, 2008. "I'd rather be Hanged for a Sheep than a Lamb: The Unintended Consequences of 'Three-Strikes' Laws," NBER Working Papers 13784, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  8. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 344-376, August.
  9. Lance Lochner, 2004. "Education, Work, and Crime: A Human Capital Approach," NBER Working Papers 10478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Kessler, Daniel P & Levitt, Steven D, 1999. "Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 343-63, April.
  11. Donohue III, John J. & Wolfers, Justin, 2006. "Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate," IZA Discussion Papers 1949, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Reyes Jessica Wolpaw, 2007. "Environmental Policy as Social Policy? The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-43, October.
  13. David S. Lee & Justin McCrary, 2005. "Crime, Punishment, and Myopia," NBER Working Papers 11491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. Lawrence Katz & Steven D. Levitt & Ellen Shustorovich, 2003. "Prison Conditions, Capital Punishment, and Deterrence," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 318-343, August.
  16. Lance Lochner, 2005. "Individual Perceptions of the Criminal Justice System," 2005 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 452, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  17. Nevin, Rick, 2007. "Understanding international crime trends: The legacy of preschool lead exposure," MPRA Paper 35338, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  18. Mocan, H Naci & Gittings, R Kaj, 2003. "Getting Off Death Row: Commuted Sentences and the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 453-78, October.
  19. Justin McCrary, 2002. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1236-1243, September.
  20. Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, 2007. "Environmental Policy as Social Policy? The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime," NBER Working Papers 13097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. John Donohue & Ian Ayres, . "The Latest Misfires in Support of the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis," Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy Working Paper Series, Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy yale_lepp-1010, Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy.
  22. 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, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 319-51, May.
  23. 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).
  24. 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, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-68, January.
  25. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Ian Ayres & John J. Donohue III, 2002. "Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 9336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Richard S. Grossman & Stephen A. Lee, 2008. "May Issue Versus Shall Issue: Explaining The Pattern Of Concealed-Carry Handgun Laws, 1960-2001," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(2), pages 198-206, 04.
  28. Christopher L. Foote & Christopher F. Goetz, 2008. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime: Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 407-423, 02.
  29. Carlos Dobkin & Nancy Nicosia, 2009. "The War on Drugs: Methamphetamine, Public Health, and Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 324-49, March.
  30. Benson, B.L. & Kim, I. & Rasmussen, D.W., 1992. "Estimating Deterrence Effects: A Public Choice Perspective on the Economics of Crime Literature," Working Papers, Department of Economics, Florida State University 1992_12_01, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
  31. Cornwell, Christopher & Trumbull, William N, 1994. "Estimating the Economic Model of Crime with Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 360-66, May.
  32. M. Keith Chen & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach," Law and Economics, EconWPA 0304003, EconWPA.
  33. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "What causes violent crime?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 46(7), pages 1323-1357, July.
  34. Cameron, Samuel, 1988. "The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 301-23.
  35. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  36. Ted Joyce, 2009. "A Simple Test of Abortion and Crime," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 112-123, February.
  37. John J. Donohue & Steven D. Levitt, 2008. "Measurement Error, Legalized Abortion, and the Decline in Crime: A Response to Foote and Goetz," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 425-440, 02.
  38. Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Joanna M. Shepherd, 2006. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Evidence from a "Judicial Experiment"," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(3), pages 512-535, July.
  39. Kislaya Prasad, 2012. "Economic Liberalization and Violent Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(4), pages 925 - 948.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13759. See general 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 you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.