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The Wild West is Wild: The Homicide Resource Curse

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  • Mathieu Couttenier

    ()
    (University of Lausanne.)

  • Pauline Grosjean

    ()
    (School of Economics, Australian School of Business, the University of New South Wales)

  • Marc Sangnier

    ()
    (Aix-Marseille University, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, CNRS & EHESS.)

Abstract

We uncover interpersonal violence as a dimension and a mechanism of the re- source curse. We rely on a historical natural experiment in the United States, in which mineral discoveries occurred at various stages of governmental territorial ex- pansion. “Early” mineral discoveries, before full-fledged rule of law is in place in a county, are associated with higher levels of interpersonal violence, both historically and today. The persistence of this homicide resource curse is partly explained by the low quality of (subsequent) judicial institutions. The specificity of our results to violent crime also suggests that a private order of property rights did emerge on the frontier, but that it was enforced through high levels of interpersonal violence. The results are robust to state-specific effects, to comparing only neighboring counties, and to comparing only discoveries within short time intervals of one another.

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File URL: http://research.economics.unsw.edu.au/RePEc/papers/2014-12.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by School of Economics, The University of New South Wales in its series Discussion Papers with number 2014-12.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:swe:wpaper:2014-12

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Keywords: Homicide; Institutions; Resource curse; United States;

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  1. 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, vol. 42(1), pages 343-63, April.
  2. David ,Paul A. & Wright ,Gavin, 1995. "The origins of American resource abundance," Research Memorandum 017, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  3. Paolo Buonanno & Ruben Durante & Giovanni Prarolo & Paolo Vanin, 2012. "Poor institutions, rich mines: resource curse and the origins of the Sicilian mafia," Working Papers 2012/29, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  4. Ragnar Torvik, 2009. "Why do some resource-abundant countries succeed while others do not?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(2), pages 241-256, Summer.
  5. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1992. "Cooperation, Conflict, and Power in the Absence of Property Rights," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 720-39, September.
  6. Sylvain Chassang & Gerard Padró i Miquel, 2010. "Conflict and Deterrence under Strategic Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1821-1858, November.
  7. Clay, Karen & Wright, Gavin, 2005. "Order without law? Property rights during the California gold rush," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 155-183, April.
  8. Clay, Karen & Jones, Randall, 2008. "Migrating to Riches? Evidence from the California Gold Rush," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(04), pages 997-1027, December.
  9. Dan Silverman, 2004. "Street Crime And Street Culture," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 761-786, 08.
  10. Zerbe, Richard O. & Anderson, C. Leigh, 2001. "Culture And Fairness In The Development Of Institutions In The California Gold Fields," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(01), pages 114-143, March.
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