IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cdl/ucsdec/qt5hb4h56g.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime

Author

Listed:
  • Raphael, Steven
  • WINTER-EBMER, RUDOLF

Abstract

Previous estimates of the effect of unemployment on crime commonly omit determinants of criminal behavior that vary with the business cycle, creating correlation between unemployment rates and the residuals in aggregate crime regressions. In this paper, we employ several strategies that attempt to minimize or break this correlation and eliminate the accompanying omitted variables bias to estimates of the effect of unemployment on crime. Using a state-level panel for the period from 1970 to 1993, we explore the sensitivity of crime-unemployment elasticity estimates to explicit controls for per-capita alcohol consumption, a factor that has been shown in the past to be pro-cyclical and a partial determinant of criminal behavior. In addition, we use prime defense contracts per-capita at the state level as an instrument for state unemployment rates. Both controlling for alcohol consumption and using instrumental variables to correct for omitted variables bias yields large effects of unemployment on the seven felony offenses recorded by the Department of Justice. Moreover, in contrast to previous research, we find significant and sizable positive effects of unemployment on the rates of specific violent, as well as property crimes.

Suggested Citation

  • Raphael, Steven & WINTER-EBMER, RUDOLF, 1998. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt5hb4h56g, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsdec:qt5hb4h56g
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/5hb4h56g.pdf;origin=repeccitec
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Freeman, Scott & Grogger, Jeffrey & Sonstelie, Jon, 1996. "The Spatial Concentration of Crime," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 216-231, September.
    3. Steven J. Davis & Prakash Lougani & Ramamohan Mahidhara, 1997. "Regional Labor Fluctuations: Oil Shocks, Military Spending, and Other Driving Forces," JCPR Working Papers 4, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Pierre-Richard Agénor, 1995. "The Labor Market and Economic Adjustment," IMF Working Papers 1995/125, International Monetary Fund.
    7. John Bound & Richard B. Freeman, 1992. "What Went Wrong? The Erosion of Relative Earnings and Employment Among Young Black Men in the 1980s," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 201-232.
    8. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-290, June.
    9. Jeffrey Grogger, 1995. "The Effect of Arrests on the Employment and Earnings of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 51-71.
    10. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
    11. Grogger, Jeff, 1998. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 756-791, October.
    12. Nagin, Daniel & Waldfogel, Joel, 1995. "The effects of criminality and conviction on the labor market status of young British offenders," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 109-126, January.
    13. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650.
    14. Viscusi, W Kip, 1986. "The Risks and Rewards of Criminal Activity: A Comprehensive Test of Criminal Deterrence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 317-340, July.
    15. Witte, Ann D & Tauchen, Helen, 1994. "Work and Crime: An Exploration Using Panel Data," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 155-167.
    16. Hooker, Mark A & Knetter, Michael M, 1997. "The Effects of Military Spending on Economic Activity: Evidence from State Procurement Spending," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(3), pages 400-421, August.
    17. Ruhm, Christopher J., 1995. "Economic conditions and alcohol problems," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 583-603, December.
    18. 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.
    19. Lott, John R, Jr & Mustard, David B, 1997. "Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-68, January.
    20. Papps, Kerry L. & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Unemployment and Crime: New Answers to an Old Question," IZA Discussion Papers 25, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    21. Ann Dryden Witte & Helen Tauchen, 1994. "Work and Crime: An Exploration Using Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 4794, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Denis Fougère & Francis Kramarz & Julien Pouget, 2009. "Youth Unemployment and Crime in France," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 909-938, September.
    2. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pc:p:3529-3571 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Lastauskas, Povilas & Tatsi, Eirini, 2017. "Spatial Nexus in Crime and Unemployment in Times of Crisis," Working Paper Series 2/2017, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    4. Naci Mocan & Kaj Gittings, 2010. "The Impact of Incentives on Human Behavior: Can We Make it Disappear? The Case of the Death Penalty," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America, pages 379-418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Corman, Hope & Mocan, Naci, 2005. "Carrots, Sticks, and Broken Windows," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 235-266, April.
    6. Edmark, Karin, 2003. "The Effects of Unemployment on Property Crime: Evidence from a Period of Unusually Large Swings in the Business Cycle," Working Paper Series 2003:14, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    7. Paolo Buonanno & Daniel Montolio Estivill, 2005. "Identifying the Socioeconomic Determinants of Crime in Spanish Provinces," Working Papers in Economics 138, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
    8. Mancino, Maria Antonella & Navarro, Salvador & Rivers, David A., 2016. "Separating state dependence, experience, and heterogeneity in a model of youth crime and education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 274-305.
    9. Lauridsen, Jorgen, 2010. "Is Polish Crime Economically Rational?," Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, Mid-Continent Regional Science Association, vol. 40(2), pages 1-7.
    10. Syed Yasir Mahmood Gillani & Rana Ejaz Ali Khan & Abid Rashid Gill, 2011. "Unemployment and Property Crimes in Pakistan," Asian Economic and Financial Review, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 1(3), pages 124-133, September.
    11. Lauridsen, Jørgen T. & Zeren, Fatma & Ari, Ayse, 2014. "Is crime in Turkey economically rational?," Discussion Papers of Business and Economics 3/2014, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics.
    12. Nikolaos Dritsakis & Alexandros Gkanas, 2009. "The effect of socio-economic determinants on crime rates: An empirical research in the case of Greece with cointegration analysis," International Journal of Business and Economic Sciences Applied Research (IJBESAR), International Hellenic University (IHU), Kavala Campus, Greece (formerly Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Institute of Technology - EMaTTech), vol. 2(2), pages 51-64, December.
    13. 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.
    14. Entorf, H. & Winker, P., 2008. "Investigating the drugs-crime channel in economics of crime models: Empirical evidence from panel data of the German States," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 8-22, March.
    15. Altindag, Duha T., 2012. "Crime and unemployment: Evidence from Europe," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 145-157.
    16. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "What causes violent crime?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(7), pages 1323-1357, July.
    17. Bedard, Kelly & Helland, Eric, 2004. "The location of women's prisons and the deterrence effect of "harder" time," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 147-167, June.
    18. Bence Czafit & János Köllő, 2015. "Employment and wages before and after incarceration – evidence from Hungary," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-21, December.
    19. Lauridsen, Jørgen T. & Zeren, Fatma & Ari, Ay?E, 2015. "Is Crime in Turkey Economically Rational?/¿Es económicamente racional el crimen en Turquía?," Estudios de Economia Aplicada, Estudios de Economia Aplicada, vol. 33, pages 37-52, Enero.
    20. Kangoh Lee, 2018. "Unemployment and crime: the role of apprehension," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 59-80, February.
    21. Bell, Brian & Costa, Rui & Machin, Stephen, 2018. "Why Does Education Reduce Crime?," CEPR Discussion Papers 13162, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    unemployment; crime;

    JEL classification:

    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsdec:qt5hb4h56g. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/deucsus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.