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Does Unemployment Increase Crime?: Evidence from U.S. Data 1974–2000

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Abstract

OLS may understate the effect of unemployment on crime because of the endogeneity problem (Raphael and Winter-Ember 2001). In this paper, we use changes in the real exchange rate, state manufacturing sector percentages, and state union membership rates as novel instrumental variables to carry out 2SLS estimations. We find a one-percentage-point increase in unemployment would increase property crime by 1.8 percent under the OLS method, but that the elasticity goes up to 4 percent under 2SLS. The larger 2SLS effect has significant policy implications because it explains 30 percent of the property crime change during the 1990s.

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  • Ming-Jen Lin, 2008. "Does Unemployment Increase Crime?: Evidence from U.S. Data 1974–2000," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(2), pages 413-436.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:43:y:2008:i:2:p:413-436
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    1. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 69-85, Fall.
    2. Roland G. Fryer & Paul S. Heaton & Steven D. Levitt & Kevin M. Murphy, 2005. "Measuring the Impact of Crack Cocaine," NBER Working Papers 11318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Steven D. Levitt, 1996. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence from Prison Overcrowding Litigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 319-351.
    4. Anderson, David A, 1999. "The Aggregate Burden of Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 611-642, October.
    5. Burgess, Simon M & Knetter, Michael M, 1998. "An International Comparison of Employment Adjustment to Exchange Rate Fluctuations," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(1), pages 151-163, February.
    6. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 2001. "Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments," Working Papers 834, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    7. Entorf, Horst & Spengler, Hannes, 2000. "Socioeconomic and demographic factors of crime in Germany: Evidence from panel data of the German states," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 75-106, March.
    8. Jeff Grogger & Michael Willis, 2000. "The Emergence Of Crack Cocaine And The Rise In Urban Crime Rates," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 519-529, November.
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