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Life and Death in the Fast Lane: Police Enforcement and Traffic Fatalities

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  • Gregory DeAngelo
  • Benjamin Hansen

Abstract

Simultaneity complicates the estimation of the causal effect of police on crime. We overcome this obstacle by focusing on a mass layoff of Oregon State Police in February of 2003. Due solely to budget cuts, 35 percent of the roadway troopers were laid off, which dramatically reduced citations. The subsequent decrease in enforcement is associated with a significant increase in injuries and fatalities. The effects are similar using control groups chosen either geographically or through data-driven methods. Our estimates suggest that a highway fatality can be prevented with $309,000 of expenditures on state police.

Suggested Citation

  • Gregory DeAngelo & Benjamin Hansen, 2014. "Life and Death in the Fast Lane: Police Enforcement and Traffic Fatalities," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 231-257, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:6:y:2014:i:2:p:231-57
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.6.2.231
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H76 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Other Expenditure Categories
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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