Privately Produced General Deterrence
In this study, we use county data on private security establishments and employment for 1977-92 to test two hypotheses. First, we test whether private security deters crime. Second, we test whether John Lott and David Mustard's estimates of the impact of shall-issue laws on crime are biased because of a lack of controls for private security. We find little evidence that private security reduces the crime rates for assault or larceny. Some estimates suggest murder, robbery, and/or auto theft may be deterred by private security, although these results are not robust. Of all the index crime categories, only rape is estimated to have a consistent negative relationship with private security. In addition, we find little evidence that the Lott and Mustard results are biased because of a lack of controls for the private security measures employed in this study. Copyright 2001 by the University of Chicago.
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