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Unemployment and gang crime: can prosperity backfire?

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  • Panu Poutvaara

    ()

  • Mikael Priks

    ()

Abstract

In this paper, we study how unemployment affects gang crime. We examine a model of criminal gangs and suggest that a substitution effect between petty crime and severe crime is at work. In the model, non-monetary valuation of gang membership is private knowledge. Thus, the leaders face a trade-off between less crime per member in large gangs and more crime per member in small gangs. A decrease in unemployment may result in a switch from a large gang that requires petty crime to a small gang that requires severe crime.
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Suggested Citation

  • Panu Poutvaara & Mikael Priks, 2011. "Unemployment and gang crime: can prosperity backfire?," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 259-273, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:ecogov:v:12:y:2011:i:3:p:259-273
    DOI: 10.1007/s10101-011-0094-2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 163-190, Winter.
    2. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ember, Rudolf, 2001. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 259-283, April.
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    4. Abdala Mansour & Nicolas Marceau & Steeve Mongrain, 2006. "Gangs and Crime Deterrence," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 315-339, October.
    5. Panu Poutvaara & Mikael Priks, 2009. "Hooliganism and Police Tactics," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 11(3), pages 441-453, June.
    6. Denis Fougère & Francis Kramarz & Julien Pouget, 2009. "Youth Unemployment and Crime in France," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 909-938, September.
    7. George J. Stigler, 1974. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 55-67 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Robert Dur & Joël Van Der Weele, 2013. "Status-Seeking in Criminal Subcultures and the Double Dividend of Zero-Tolerance," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 15(1), pages 77-93, February.
    9. Alan Seals, 2009. "Are Gangs a Substitute for Legitimate Employment? Investigating the Impact of Labor Market Effects on Gang Affiliation," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(3), pages 407-425, August.
    10. Stergios Skaperdas, 2001. "The political economy of organized crime: providing protection when the state does not," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 173-202, November.
    11. Poret, Sylvaine, 2002. "Paradoxical effects of law enforcement policies: the case of the illicit drug market," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 465-493, December.
    12. Neher, Philip A, 1978. "The Pure Theory of the Muggery," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(3), pages 437-445, June.
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    15. Antony W. Dnes & Nuno Garoupa, 2010. "Behavior, Human Capital and the Formation of Gangs," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(4), pages 517-529, November.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Friehe, Tim, 2013. "Tempting righteous citizens? Counterintuitive effects of increasing sanctions in the realm of organized crime," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 37-40.
    2. 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.
    3. Long, Iain W., 2013. "Recruitment to Organised Crime," Cardiff Economics Working Papers E2013/10, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section.
    4. repec:bla:manchs:v:85:y:2017:i:5:p:541-576 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Violence; Crime; Gangs; Unemployment; K42; D71; D74;

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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