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Youth Gangs as Pseudo-Governments: Implications for Violent Crime

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Author Info

  • Russell S. Sobel

    (Department of Economics, West Virginia University)

  • Brian J. Osoba

    (Department of Economics, Central Connecticut State University)

Abstract

We hypothesize the failure of government to protect the rights of individuals from violence committed by youths has led to the formation of youth gangs as protective agencies. Our theory predicts an opposite direction of causality between gang activity and violent crime than is widely accepted. While areas with more gang activity also have more violence, our results suggest gangs form as protection agencies precisely in areas with high violent crime rates. While gangs, like governments, use violence to enforce rules, the net impact of gangs is likely to lower violent crime. We test this hypothesis and offer policy implications.

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File URL: http://www.be.wvu.edu/div/econ//work/pdf_files/09-09.pdf
File Function: First version, 2009
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, West Virginia University in its series Working Papers with number 09-09.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wvu:wpaper:09-09

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Web page: http://www.be.wvu.edu/div/econ/
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Cited by:
  1. Benjamin Powell & Edward Stringham, 2009. "Public choice and the economic analysis of anarchy: a survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 503-538, September.
  2. Skarbek, David, 2012. "Prison gangs, norms, and organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 96-109.
  3. Entorf, Horst, 2013. "Criminal Victims, Victimized Criminals, or Both? A Deeper Look at the Victim-Offender Overlap," IZA Discussion Papers 7686, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Daniel D’Amico, 2010. "The prison in economics: private and public incarceration in Ancient Greece," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 145(3), pages 461-482, December.
  5. Seals, Richard Alan & Stern, Liliana V., 2013. "Cognitive ability and the division of labor in urban ghettos: Evidence from gang activity in U.S. data," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 140-149.
  6. Mulholland, Sean E., 2011. "Hate Source: White Supremacist Hate Groups and Hate Crime," MPRA Paper 28861, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Daniel D’Amico, 2012. "Comparative political economy when anarchism is on the table," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 63-75, March.
  8. Entorf, Horst, 2012. "Certainty and Severity of Sanctions in Classical and Behavioral Models of Deterrence: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 6516, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Richard Alan Seals Jr., 2011. "Cognitive Ability and the Division of Labor in Urban Ghettos: Evidence From Gang Activity in U.S. Data," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2011-03, Department of Economics, Auburn University.

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