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The Impact of Macroeconomic Conditions on Property Crime

  • John M. Nunley
  • Richard Alan Seals Jr.
  • Joachim Zietz

This paper examines the impact of inflation, (un)employment, and stock market growth on the rates of larceny, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and robbery. The study uses U.S. data for the time period 1948 to 2009. We employ an unobserved component approach to circumvent the problems associated with omitted variables. We find that the three macroeconomic variables have a statistically significant impact for most of the property crime rates. However, taken together the macroeconomic variables explain no more than 15 percent of the surge in property crimes from the 1960 to the 1980s and their subsequent fall during the 1990s. Among the macroeconomic variables, almost all of the explanatory power is provided by changes in the inflation rate.

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File URL: http://cla.auburn.edu/econwp/Archives/2011/2011-06.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Auburn University in its series Auburn Economics Working Paper Series with number auwp2011-06.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:abn:wpaper:auwp2011-06
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Web page: http://cla.auburn.edu/economics/

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  1. Morgan Kelly, 2000. "Inequality And Crime," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 530-539, November.
  2. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "Why Do Increased Arrest Rates Appear to Reduce Crime: Deterrence, Incapacitation, or Measurement Error?," NBER Working Papers 5268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Tang, Chor Foon & Lean, Hooi Hooi, 2009. "New evidence from the misery index in the crime function," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 112-115, February.
  5. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
  6. Commandeur, Jacques J.F. & Koopman, Siem Jan, 2007. "An Introduction to State Space Time Series Analysis," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199228874.
  7. John M. Nunley & Richard Alan Seals & Joachim Zietz, 2010. "Demographic Change, Macroeconomic Conditions, and the Murder Rate: The Case of the United States, 1934 to 2006," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2010-04, Department of Economics, Auburn University.
  8. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
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