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Jobs or jails? The crime drop in Texas

Author

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  • William Spelman

    (University of Texas, Austin)

Abstract

Crime went down throughout the U.S. in the 1990s. Potential explanations include demographic shifts, improved economic opportunities, changes in drug markets, evolving police strategies, and an increasing prison population. Previous attempts to parcel out responsibility among these explanations are unpersuasive. Some do not consider all of the explanations, others rely on highly aggregated data, still others confuse cause and effect. An analysis of Texas counties that deals with these problems shows that the Texas crime drop was largely due to increases in the jail and prison population; property crime also dropped due to increases in real wages and wealth and in public order arrests. Further prison construction would not be cost-effective in Texas due to declining marginal returns, but direct interventions to improve economic opportunities or make police work more proactive may be. © 2005 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Suggested Citation

  • William Spelman, 2005. "Jobs or jails? The crime drop in Texas," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(1), pages 133-165.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:24:y:2005:i:1:p:133-165
    DOI: 10.1002/pam.20073
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/pam.20073
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. A. Bhargava & L. Franzini & W. Narendranathan, 2006. "Serial Correlation and the Fixed Effects Model," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Econometrics, Statistics And Computational Approaches In Food And Health Sciences, chapter 4, pages 61-77 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    2. 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.
    3. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1998. "Cross-city evidence on the relationship between immigration and crime," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(3), pages 457-493.
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    Cited by:

    1. Catalina Gómez Toro & Hermilson Velásquez & Joaquín Andrés Urrego & Juan David Valderrama, 2014. "Efecto de los Ingresos Permanentes sobre el Delito: Un Enfoque Espacial y un Caso de Aplicación," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO CIEF 010900, UNIVERSIDAD EAFIT.
    2. Yu Liu & Thomas M. Fullerton Jr. & Nathan J. Ashby, 2013. "Assessing The Impacts Of Labor Market And Deterrence Variables On Crime Rates In Mexico," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(4), pages 669-690, October.
    3. Steven N. Durlauf & Daniel S. Nagin, 2010. "The Deterrent Effect of Imprisonment," NBER Chapters,in: Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs, pages 43-94 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Rosalia Condorelli, 2013. "Applied nonlinear dynamical system in social science. A nonlinear model for social control system: an application to Italian coercion system," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 1173-1198, February.
    5. repec:esx:essedp:737 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Mauro Costantini & Iris Meco & Antonio Paradiso, 2016. "Common trends in the US state-level crime.What do panel data say?," Working Papers 2016:14, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    7. repec:kap:ejlwec:v:45:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10657-016-9526-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Thomas B. Marvell, 2010. "Prison Population and Crime," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Crime, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. O’Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2015. "Urban Crime," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.

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