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Deterrence, Work and Crime: Revisiting the Issues with Birth Cohort Data

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  • Helen V. Tauchen
  • Ann Dryden Witte
  • Harriet Griesinger
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    Abstract

    In this paper we analyze criminal behavior of a cohort sample of young men over an eight year period using random effects probit and Tobit techniques. Our major advances relate to our careful conceptualization general deterrence, and our data. As far as we are aware, this work represents the first time that a richly specified model of criminal activity has been estimated using panel data for a general population group. We find very robust evidence for a general deterrent effect emanating from police resources. Our results regarding general deterrence are open to fewer questions than previous findings. We also find that working and going to school significantly decrease the probability of commmitting criminal acts and by virtually identical amounts. This similarity of effect when coupled with other findings suggests that crime does not serve mainly as a direct source of income and that incentive effects emanating from higher wages are not very strong. There is little empirical support for the crime as work' model that has dominated economic thought regarding crime over the last two decades. More fruitful models of work and crime may result if work is conceived as having its primary effects either through preferences or through information.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2508.

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    Date of creation: Feb 1988
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    Publication status: published as Public Finance, volume 49 (1994) pp 155-167
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2508

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    1. Ehrlich, Isaac & Brower, George D, 1987. "On the Issue of Causality in the Economic Model of Crime and Law Enforcement: Some Theoretical Considerations and Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 99-106, May.
    2. Isaac Ehrlich, 1974. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: An Economic Analysis," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 68-134 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Block, Michael Kent & Nold, Frederick Carl, 1981. "The Deterrent Effect of Antitrust Enforcement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 429-45, June.
    4. Cook, Philip J., 1979. "The clearance rate as a measure of criminal justice system effectiveness," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 135-142, February.
    5. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-19, June.
    6. Richard B. Freeman, 1986. "Who Escapes? The Relation of Churchgoing and Other Background Factors to the Socioeconomic Performance of Black Male Youths from Inner-City Tracts," NBER Chapters, in: The Black Youth Employment Crisis, pages 353-376 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Hashimoto, Masanori, 1987. "The Minimum Wage Law and Youth Crimes: Time-series Evidence," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 443-64, October.
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    Cited by:
    1. Imai, Susumu & Krishna, Kala, 2001. "Employment, Dynamic Deterrence and Crime," Working Papers, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Economics 1-01-2, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Economics.
    2. Helen Tauchen & Ann Dryden Witte & Harriet Griesinger, 1993. "Criminal Deterrence: Revisiting the Issue with a Birth Cohort," NBER Working Papers 4277, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jeff Grogger, 1997. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," NBER Working Papers 5983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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