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Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime

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  • Levitt, Steven D

Abstract

Previous empirical studies have uncovered little evidence that police reduce crime, possibly due to simultaneity problems. This paper uses the timing of mayoral and gubernatorial elections as an instrument variable to identify a causal effect of police on crime. Increases in the size of police forces are shown to be disproportionately concentrated in mayoral and gubernatorial election years. Increases in police are shown to substantially reduce violent crime but have a smaller impact on property crime. The null hypothesis that the marginal social benefit of reduced crime equals the costs of hiring additional police cannot be rejected. Copyright 1997 by American Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-290, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:87:y:1997:i:3:p:270-90
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & José A. Scheinkman, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-548.
    2. Sachs, Jeffrey & Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Political Parties and the Business Cycle in the United States, 1948-1984," Scholarly Articles 4553026, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    3. 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.
    4. James Andreoni, 1991. "Reasonable Doubt and the Optimal Magnitude of Fines: Should the Penalty Fit the Crime?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(3), pages 385-395, Autumn.
    5. Craig, Steven G., 1987. "The deterrent impact of police: An examination of a locally provided public service," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 298-311, May.
    6. McCormick, Robert E & Tollison, Robert D, 1984. "Crime on the Court," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(2), pages 223-235, April.
    7. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1995. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 769-798.
    8. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-565, May-June.
    9. repec:cup:apsrev:v:82:y:1988:i:01:p:133-154_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Cameron, Samuel, 1988. "The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 301-323.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures

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