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More police, less crime: Evidence from US state data


  • Lin, Ming-Jen


Economic theory suggests police and crime are negatively correlated. However, it is surprisingly difficult to demonstrate this relation empirically, as areas with greater numbers of crimes tend to hire more police. In order to resolve this simultaneity, we begin by exploring the structure of the financial relationship existing between state and local governments, arguing that variations in state tax rates can serve as an instrumental variable for local police numbers. Two-stage least square (2SLS) result show that the elasticity of police presence with respect to crime is about -1.1 for violent crime, and -0.9 for property crime. These results are mostly significant, and are more negative than those obtained under OLS. Overall, our estimations suggest that police does reduce crime.

Suggested Citation

  • Lin, Ming-Jen, 2009. "More police, less crime: Evidence from US state data," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 73-80, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:29:y:2009:i:2:p:73-80

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ben Vollaard & Joseph Hamed, 2012. "Why the Police Have an Effect on Violent Crime After All: Evidence from the British Crime Survey," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(4), pages 901-924.
    2. Concha Verdugo Yepes & Peter L. Pedroni & Xingwei Hu, 2015. "Crime and the Economy in Mexican States; Heterogeneous Panel Estimates (1993-2012)," IMF Working Papers 15/121, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Jérôme Adda & Brendon McConnell & Imran Rasul, 2014. "Crime and the Depenalization of Cannabis Possession: Evidence from a Policing Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(5), pages 1130-1202.
    4. Altindag, Duha T., 2012. "Crime and unemployment: Evidence from Europe," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 145-157.
    5. Vollaard, Ben & Koning, Pierre, 2009. "The effect of police on crime, disorder and victim precaution. Evidence from a Dutch victimization survey," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 336-348, December.
    6. Guha, Brishti & Guha, Ashok S., 2012. "Crime and moral hazard: Does more policing necessarily induce private negligence?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(3), pages 455-459.
    7. Mauro Costantini & Iris Meco & Antonio Paradiso, 2016. "Common trends in the US state-level crime.What do panel data say?," Working Papers 2016:14, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    8. King Yoong Lim & Pengfei Jia & Ali Raza, 2018. "Crime, Human Capital, and the Impact of Different Taxation," Working Papers 220851234, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    9. Guha, Brishti, 2013. "Guns and crime revisited," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 1-10.
    10. Paul R. Zimmerman, 2010. "The Economics of Capital Punishment and Deterrence," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Crime, chapter 16 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Aaron Chalfin & Justin McCrary, 2017. "Criminal Deterrence: A Review of the Literature," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(1), pages 5-48, March.
    12. O’Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2015. "Urban Crime," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.


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