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A cure for crime? Psycho‐pharmaceuticals and crime trends

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  • Dave E. Marcotte
  • Sara Markowitz

Abstract

In this paper we consider possible links between the advent and diffusion of a number of new psychiatric pharmaceutical therapies and crime rates. We describe recent trends in crime and review the evidence showing mental illness as a clear risk factor both for criminal behavior and victimization. We then briefly summarize the development of a number of new pharmaceutical therapies for the treatment of mental illness which diffused during the "great American crime decline." We examine limited international data, as well as more detailed American data to assess the relationship between crime rates and rates of prescriptions of the main categories of psychotropic drugs, while controlling for other factors which may explain trends in crime rates. We find that increases in prescriptions for psychiatric drugs are associated with decreases in violent crime, with the largest impacts associated with new generation antidepressants and stimulants used to treat ADHD.
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Suggested Citation

  • Dave E. Marcotte & Sara Markowitz, 2011. "A cure for crime? Psycho‐pharmaceuticals and crime trends," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(1), pages 29-56, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:30:y:2011:i:1:p:29-56
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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.
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    4. Cuellar, Alison Evans & Markowitz, Sara, 2007. "Medicaid policy changes in mental health care and their effect on mental health outcomes," Health Economics, Policy and Law, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(01), pages 23-49, January.
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    7. Mark Duggan, 2001. "More Guns, More Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 1086-1114, October.
    8. Markowitz, Sara & Cuellar, Alison, 2007. "Antidepressants and youth: Healing or harmful?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(10), pages 2138-2151, May.
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    10. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2002:92:9:1523-1531_9 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, 2007. "Environmental Policy as Social Policy? The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime," NBER Working Papers 13097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-565, May-June.
    13. Philip J. Cook, 2008. "Assessing Urban Crime And Its Control: An Overview," NBER Working Papers 13781, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Susan H. Busch & Ezra Golberstein & Ellen Meara, 2014. "The FDA and ABCs: Unintended Consequences of Antidepressant Warnings on Human Capital," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 49(3), pages 540-557.
    2. D. Mark Anderson & Resul Cesur & Erdal Tekin, 2015. "Youth Depression And Future Criminal Behavior," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 53(1), pages 294-317, January.
    3. Samuel Bondurant & jason lindo & Isaac Swensen, 2016. "Substance Abuse Treatment Centers and Local Crime," Working Papers id:11302, eSocialSciences.
    4. Richard Wright & Erdal Tekin & Volkan Topalli & Chandler McClellan & Timothy Dickinson & Richard Rosenfeld, 2017. "Less Cash, Less Crime: Evidence from the Electronic Benefit Transfer Program," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(2), pages 361-383.
    5. van Winden Frans A.A.M. & Ash Elliott, 2012. "On the Behavioral Economics of Crime," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 181-213, June.
    6. repec:eee:juecon:v:104:y:2018:i:c:p:124-133 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Susan Busch & Ezra Golberstein & Ellen Meara, 2011. "The FDA and ABCs: The Unintended Consequences of Antidepressant Warnings on Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 17426, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Richard Frank & Thomas G. McGuire, 2010. "Mental Health Treatment and Criminal Justice Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 15858, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. O’Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2015. "Urban Crime," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General

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