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The L.A. Riot and the Economics of Urban Unrest

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  • Denise DiPasquale
  • Edward L. Glaeser

Abstract

The Los Angeles riot of 1992 resulted in 52 deaths, 2,500 injuries and at least $446 million in property damage; this staggering toll rekindled interest in understanding the underlying causes of the widespread social phenomenon of rioting. We examine the causes of rioting using international data, evidence from the race riots of the 1960s in the U.S., and Census data on Los Angeles, 1990. We find some support for the notions that the opportunity costs of time and the potential costs of punishment influence the incidence and intensity of riots. Beyond these individual costs and benefits, community structure matters. In our results, ethnic diversity seems a significant determinant of rioting, while we find little evidence that poverty in the community matters.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5456.

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Date of creation: Feb 1996
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Publication status: Published as "The Los Angeles Riot and the Economics of Urban Unrest", JUE, Vol. 43, no. 1 (January 1998): 52-78.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5456

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  1. Alberto F. Ades & Edward L. Glaeser, 1994. "Trade and Circuses: Explaining Urban Giants," NBER Working Papers 4715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Takayama,Akira, 1985. "Mathematical Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521314985, October.
  3. Barro, Robert J, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-43, May.
  4. Timur Kuran, 1989. "Sparks and prairie fires: A theory of unanticipated political revolution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 61(1), pages 41-74, April.
  5. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  6. Grossman, Herschel I, 1991. "A General Equilibrium Model of Insurrections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 912-21, September.
  7. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Income distribution, political instability, and investment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1203-1228, June.
  8. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Gradstein, Mark & Justman, Moshe, 2001. "Public Education and the Melting Pot," CEPR Discussion Papers 2924, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Gradstein, Mark & Justman, Moshe, 2005. "The melting pot and school choice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 871-896, June.
  3. Gradstein, Mark & Justman, Moshe, 2001. "Education, Social Cohesion and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2773, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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