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Carrots, Sticks, and Broken Windows

  • Corman, Hope
  • Mocan, Naci

This paper investigates the effect of economic conditions (carrots) and sanctions (sticks) on murder, assault, robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft, grand larceny, and rape in New York City, using monthly time-series data spanning 1974-99. Carrots are measured by the unemployment rate and the real minimum wage; sticks are measured by the number of felony arrests, size of the police force, and number of New York City residents in prison. In addition, the paper tests the validity of the "broken windows" hypothesis. Consistent with its implementation by the New York Police Department, we use misdemeanor arrests as a measure of broken-windows policing. The broken-windows hypothesis has validity in the case of robbery, motor vehicle theft, and grand larceny. While both economic and deterrence variables are important in explaining the decline in crime, the contribution of deterrence measures is larger than those of economic variables.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 48 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 235-66

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:y:2005:v:48:i:1:p:235-66
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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  1. Donohue, John J. & Levitt, Steven D., 2000. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt00p599hk, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  2. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 1999. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," CEPR Discussion Papers 2129, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Jeff Grogger, 1997. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," NBER Working Papers 5983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. H. Naci Mocan, 1999. "Structural Unemployment, Cyclical Unemployment, and Income Inequality," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 122-134, February.
  5. Blackburn, Keith & Ravn, Morten O, 1992. "Business Cycles in the United Kingdom: Facts and Fictions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 59(236), pages 383-401, November.
  6. Corman, Hope & Joyce, Theodore & Lovitch, Norman, 1987. "Crime, Deterrence and the Business Cycle in New York City: A VAR Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(4), pages 695-700, November.
  7. H. Naci Mocan & Hope Corman, 2000. "A Time-Series Analysis of Crime, Deterrence, and Drug Abuse in New York City," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 584-604, June.
  8. Donohue, John J, III & Siegelman, Peter, 1998. "Allocating Resources among Prisons and Social Programs in the Battle against Crime," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-43, January.
  9. Theodore J. Joyce & Naci H. Mocan, 1989. "The Impact of a Ban on Legalized Abortion on Adolescent Childbearing in New York City," NBER Working Papers 3002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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