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Armed police and violence: Evidence from a quasi-natural experiment in Brazil

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  • Arvate, Paulo
  • Souza, André Portela

Abstract

While governments discuss arming their police, or retaining their armed status, the literature shows no evidence of the effect on violent crimes when the police are armed. Unlike this literature, our work shows that the effect of arming the police is a reduction in violent crimes (homicides and acts of aggression). With data taken from Brazilian municipalities for the period between 2002 and 2012, we estimate the effect that armed police have on violent crime using a quasi-natural experiment: a change in the law that regulates the use of firearms by the municipal police force based on population size. The mechanism that explains the reduction in violent crimes is police effort (incapacitation). We also observe that violent crimes do not increase in municipalities that are neighbors of municipalities in which the police are armed (a deterrence effect).

Suggested Citation

  • Arvate, Paulo & Souza, André Portela, 2022. "Armed police and violence: Evidence from a quasi-natural experiment in Brazil," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 111(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:111:y:2022:i:c:s0264999322000712
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econmod.2022.105825
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Firearm law; Local police force; Homicides; Acts of aggression; Incapacitation; Deterrence;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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