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Increasing Returns and the Evolution of Violent Crime: The Case of Columbia

  • Gaviria, Alejandro

This paper puts forth an explanation of the recent escalation of violent crime in Colombia. The paper considers three implicit models that isolate different types of externalities among criminals. In the first model criminals make crime more appealing to nearby residents by congesting the law enforcement system and hence lowering the probability of punishment. In the second model the interaction of career criminals and local crooks speeds up the diffusion of criminal know-how and criminal technology. In the third model the daily contact of youth with criminal adults and criminal peers results in the erosion of morals and hence in a greater predisposition toward crime. The paper shows that a myriad empirical evidence -both statistical and anecdotal- lends support to the previous models in general and to the congestion-in-law-enforcement model in particular.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC San Diego in its series University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt6x42726z.

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Date of creation: 01 May 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsdec:qt6x42726z
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  1. 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 270-90, June.
  2. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Andvig, J.C. & Ove Moene, K., 1988. "How Corruption May Corrupt," Memorandum 20/1988, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  4. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
  5. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  6. Sah, R.K., 1990. "Social Osmosis And Patterns Of Crime: A Dynamic Economic Analysis," Papers 609, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  7. Glaeser, Edward L & Sacerdote, Bruce & Scheinkman, Jose A, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-48, May.
  8. Romer, Paul, 1993. "Idea gaps and object gaps in economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 543-573, December.
  9. Edward L. Glaeser & Hedi D. Kallal & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1991. "Growth in Cities," NBER Working Papers 3787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Kallal, Hedi D. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1992. "Growth in Cities," Scholarly Articles 3451309, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Anne C. Case & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects of Family and Neighborhood on Disadvantaged Youths," NBER Working Papers 3705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Freeman, Scott & Grogger, Jeffrey & Sonstelie, Jon, 1996. "The Spatial Concentration of Crime," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 216-231, September.
  12. Perron, Pierre, 1989. "The Great Crash, the Oil Price Shock, and the Unit Root Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1361-1401, November.
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