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Unemployment and Gang Crime: Could Prosperity Backfire?

  • Panu Poutvaara


  • Mikael Priks

Empirical evidence reveals that unemployment tends to increase property crime but that it has no effect on violent crime. To explain these facts, we examine a model of criminal gangs and suggest that there is a substitution effect between property crime and violent crime at work. In the model, non-monetary valuation of gang membership is private knowledge. Thus the leaders face a trade-off between less crime per member in large gangs and more crime per member in small gangs. Unemployment increases the relative attractiveness of large and less violent gangs engaging more in property crime.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1944.

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Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1944
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  1. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 1999. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," CEPR Discussion Papers 2129, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Stergios Skaperdas, 2001. "The political economy of organized crime: providing protection when the state does not," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 173-202, November.
  3. Abdalla Mansour & Nicolas Marceau & Steeve Mongrain, 2001. "Gangs and Crime Deterrence," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 138, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  4. repec:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:715-753 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Konrad, Kai A. & Skaperdas, Stergios, 1997. "Credible threats in extortion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 23-39, May.
  6. 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.
  7. repec:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:755-789 is not listed on IDEAS
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