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Youth Gangs as Pseudo-Governments Implications for Violent Crime

Author

Listed:
  • Russell S. Sobel

    () (Department of Economics, P.O. Box 6025, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506-6025, USA)

  • Brian J. Osoba

    () (Department of Economics, 208 RVAC, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT 06050, USA;)

Abstract

We hypothesize that the failure of government to protect the rights of individuals from violence committed by youths has led to the formation of youth gangs as protective agencies. Our theory predicts an opposite direction of causality between gang activity and violent crime from what is widely accepted. While areas with more gang activity also have more violence, our results suggest that gangs form as protection agencies precisely in areas with high violent crime rates. While gangs, like governments, use violence to enforce rules, the net impact of gangs is likely to lower violent crime. We test this hypothesis and offer policy implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Russell S. Sobel & Brian J. Osoba, 2009. "Youth Gangs as Pseudo-Governments Implications for Violent Crime," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 996-1018, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:75:4:y:2009:p:996-1018
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:pubcho:v:171:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0437-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:jeborg:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:151-163 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Sean Mulholland, 2013. "White supremacist groups and hate crime," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 91-113, October.
    4. Mulholland, Sean E., 2011. "Hate Source: White Supremacist Hate Groups and Hate Crime," MPRA Paper 28861, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Benjamin Powell & Edward Stringham, 2009. "Public choice and the economic analysis of anarchy: a survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 503-538, September.
    6. Bruce L. Benson & Paul R. Zimmerman, 2010. "Conclusion," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Crime, chapter 20 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Rustam Romaniuc & Katherine Farrow & Lisette Ibanez & Alain Marciano, 2016. "The perils of government enforcement," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 166(1), pages 161-182, January.
    8. Daniel D’Amico, 2010. "The prison in economics: private and public incarceration in Ancient Greece," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 145(3), pages 461-482, December.
    9. Skarbek, David, 2012. "Prison gangs, norms, and organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 96-109.
    10. Seals, Richard Alan & Stern, Liliana V., 2013. "Cognitive ability and the division of labor in urban ghettos: Evidence from gang activity in U.S. data," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 140-149.
    11. Daniel D’Amico, 2012. "Comparative political economy when anarchism is on the table," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 25(1), pages 63-75, March.
    12. James Kostelnik & David Skarbek, 2013. "The governance institutions of a drug trafficking organization," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 95-103, July.
    13. Entorf, Horst, 2013. "Criminal Victims, Victimized Criminals, or Both? A Deeper Look at the Victim-Offender Overlap," IZA Discussion Papers 7686, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Entorf, Horst, 2012. "Certainty and Severity of Sanctions in Classical and Behavioral Models of Deterrence: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 6516, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. repec:spr:ecogov:v:19:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10101-017-0199-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. T. Randolph Beard & Richard Alan Seals Jr. & Michael L. Stern, 2014. "Security and Government Credibility," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2014-07, Department of Economics, Auburn University.
    17. Bruce L. Benson & Paul R. Zimmerman (ed.), 2010. "Handbook on the Economics of Crime," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13180.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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