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Increasing returns and the evolution of violent crime: the case of Colombia


  • Gaviria, Alejandro


This paper puts forth an explanation of the recent escalation of violent crime in Colombia. The paper considers three implicit models that isolate different types of externalities among criminals. In the first model criminals make crime more appealing to nearby residents by congesting the law enforcement system and hence lowering the probability of punishment. In the second model the interaction of career criminals and local crooks speeds up the diffusion of criminal know-how and criminal technology. In the third model the daily contact of youth with criminal adults and criminal peers results in the erosion of morals and hence in a greater predisposition toward crime. The paper shows that a myriad empirical evidence -both statistical and anecdotal- lends support to the previous models in general and to the congestion-in-law-enforcement model in particular.
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  • Gaviria, Alejandro, 2000. "Increasing returns and the evolution of violent crime: the case of Colombia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 1-25, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:61:y:2000:i:1:p:1-25

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Andvig, Jens Chr. & Moene, Karl Ove, 1990. "How corruption may corrupt," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 63-76, January.
    8. Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    9. Freeman, Scott & Grogger, Jeffrey & Sonstelie, Jon, 1996. "The Spatial Concentration of Crime," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 216-231, September.
    10. 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.
    11. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
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    13. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-95-2 is not listed on IDEAS
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