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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
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsdec:qt6x42726z
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  1. Sah, R.K., 1990. "Social Osmosis And Patterns Of Crime: A Dynamic Economic Analysis," Papers 609, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  2. Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Andvig, Jens Chr. & Moene, Karl Ove, 1990. "How corruption may corrupt," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 63-76, January.
  4. Edward E. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1738, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  6. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Kallal, Hedi D. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1992. "Growth in Cities," Scholarly Articles 3451309, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Freeman, Scott & Grogger, Jeffrey & Sonstelie, Jon, 1996. "The Spatial Concentration of Crime," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 216-231, September.
  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 270-90, June.
  9. 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.
  10. Perron, P, 1988. "The Great Crash, The Oil Price Shock And The Unit Root Hypothesis," Papers 338, Princeton, Department of Economics - Econometric Research Program.
  11. Romer, Paul, 1993. "Idea gaps and object gaps in economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 543-573, December.
  12. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
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