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Revisiting the effect of warrantless domestic violence arrest laws on intimate partner homicides


  • Chin, Yoo-Mi
  • Cunningham, Scott


Warrantless domestic violence arrest laws allow officers to make arrests of alleged offenders of domestic violence without warrants given probable cause. Existing literature classifies these laws into three groups based on the degree of arrest authority given to officers: discretionary, preferred, and mandatory. Using our updating of each type of warrantless domestic violence arrest law, we examine the causal effect of these laws on intimate partner homicides using differences-in-differences. In contrast to Iyengar (2009), we find no evidence that mandatory arrest laws, which remove officer discretion by making arrest a required action, increased intimate partner homicides. Instead, we find some evidence that discretionary arrest statutes, which allowed officer discretion to make arrests, decreased current and former spousal homicides.

Suggested Citation

  • Chin, Yoo-Mi & Cunningham, Scott, 2019. "Revisiting the effect of warrantless domestic violence arrest laws on intimate partner homicides," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 179(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:179:y:2019:i:c:s0047272719301331
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2019.104072

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Amy Farmer & Jill Tiefenthaler, 1997. "An Economic Analysis of Domestic Violence," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(3), pages 337-358.
    2. Anna Aizer, 2011. "Poverty, Violence, and Health: The Impact of Domestic Violence During Pregnancy on Newborn Health," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(3), pages 518-538.
    3. Caitlin Knowles Myers, 2017. "The Power of Abortion Policy: Reexamining the Effects of Young Women’s Access to Reproductive Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(6), pages 2178-2224.
    4. Andrew Goodman-Bacon, 2018. "Difference-in-Differences with Variation in Treatment Timing," NBER Working Papers 25018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Gustavo J. Bobonis & Melissa González-Brenes & Roberto Castro, 2013. "Public Transfers and Domestic Violence: The Roles of Private Information and Spousal Control," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 179-205, February.
    6. Aizer, Anna & Dal B, Pedro, 2009. "Love, hate and murder: Commitment devices in violent relationships," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 412-428, April.
    7. Francis Bloch & Vijayendra Rao, 2002. "Terror as a Bargaining Instrument: A Case Study of Dowry Violence in Rural India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1029-1043, September.
    8. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    9. Tauchen, Helen V & Witte, Ann Dryden & Long, Sharon K, 1991. "Domestic Violence: A Nonrandom Affair," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(2), pages 491-511, May.
    10. April M. Zeoli & Alexis Norris & Hannah Brenner, 2011. "Mandatory, Preferred, or Discretionary: How the Classification of Domestic Violence Warrantless Arrest Laws Impacts Their Estimated Effects on Intimate Partner Homicide," Evaluation Review, , vol. 35(2), pages 129-152, April.
    11. Amalia R Miller & Carmit Segal, 2019. "Do Female Officers Improve Law Enforcement Quality? Effects on Crime Reporting and Domestic Violence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(5), pages 2220-2247.
    12. Iyengar, Radha, 2009. "Does the certainty of arrest reduce domestic violence? Evidence from mandatory and recommended arrest laws," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 85-98, February.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Yoo-Mi Chin and Scott Cunningham (PubEc, 2019). “Revisiting the effect of warrantless domestic violence arrest laws on intimate partner homicides.”
      by ireadeconpapers in I Read Econ Papers on 2020-05-24 22:28:37

    More about this item


    Domestic violence; Crime; Gender; Warrantless arrest;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law


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