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A Cure for Crime? Psycho-Pharmaceuticals and Crime Trends

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  • Dave E. Marcotte
  • Sara Markowitz

Abstract

In this paper we consider possible links between the advent and diffusion of a number of new psychiatric pharmaceutical therapies and crime rates. We describe recent trends in crime and review the evidence showing mental illness as a clear risk factor both for criminal behavior and victimization. We then briefly summarize the development of a number of new pharmaceutical therapies for the treatment of mental illness which diffused during the “great American crime decline.” We examine limited international data, as well as more detailed American data to assess the relationship between crime rates and rates of prescriptions of the main categories of psychotropic drugs, while controlling for other factors which may explain trends in crime rates. We find that increases in prescriptions for psychiatric drugs are associated with decreases in violent crime, with the largest impacts associated with new generation antidepressants and stimulants used to treat ADHD.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15354.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
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Publication status: published as Dave E. Marcotte & Sara Markowitz, 2011. "A cure for crime? Psycho‐pharmaceuticals and crime trends," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(1), pages 29-56, December.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15354

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  1. John J. Donohue & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "The Impact Of Legalized Abortion On Crime," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 379-420, May.
  2. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 1999. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," CEPR Discussion Papers 2129, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. 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.
  4. Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 163-190, Winter.
  5. Mark Duggan, 2001. "More Guns, More Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 1086-1114, October.
  6. Cuellar, Alison Evans & Markowitz, Sara, 2007. "Medicaid policy changes in mental health care and their effect on mental health outcomes," Health Economics, Policy and Law, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(01), pages 23-49, January.
  7. 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, vol. 7(1), pages 1-43, October.
  8. 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.
  9. Markowitz, Sara & Cuellar, Alison, 2007. "Antidepressants and youth: Healing or harmful?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(10), pages 2138-2151, May.
  10. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-58, August.
  11. Evans, William N. & Owens, Emily G., 2007. "COPS and crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 181-201, February.
  12. Philip J. Cook, 2008. "Assessing Urban Crime And Its Control: An Overview," NBER Working Papers 13781, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
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Cited by:
  1. D. Mark Anderson & Resul Cesur & Erdal Tekin, 2012. "Youth Depression and Future Criminal Behavior," NBER Working Papers 18656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Susan Busch & Ezra Golberstein & Ellen Meara, 2011. "The FDA and ABCs: The Unintended Consequences of Antidepressant Warnings on Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 17426, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Richard Wright & Erdal Tekin & Volkan Topalli & Chandler McClellan & Timothy Dickinson & Richard Rosenfeld, 2014. "Less Cash, Less Crime: Evidence from the Electronic Benefit Transfer Program," NBER Working Papers 19996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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