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Racial stereotypes and robbery

  • Brendan O'Flaherty

    ()

    (Columbia University - Department of Economics)

  • Rajiv Sethi

    ()

    (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Robbery is a serious, widespread and sometimes violent crime resulting each year in costs to victims of several billion dollars. Data on the incidence of robbery reveals certain striking racial disparities. African Americans are more likely to be victims, arrestees and prisoners than are members of other demographic groups, and while black-on-white robberies are very common, white-on-black robberies are extremely rare. The disparities for robbery are also much greater than those for other crimes of acquisition. We develop a model of robbery that attempts to address these and other stylized facts. The key insight underlying the model is that robberies are typically interactions between strangers which involve a sequence of rapid decisions with severely limited information. Potential offenders must assess the likelihood of victim resistance, and victims must assess the likelihood that resistance will be met with violence. Racial disparities in the distribution of income can cause such probability assessments to be race-contingent, a¤ecting crime rates as well as rates of resistance and violence. We argue that this model helps account for several empirical regularities that appear puzzling from the perspective of alternative theories of crime.

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File URL: http://www.econ.columbia.edu/RePEc/pdf/DP0405-15.pdf
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Paper provided by Columbia University, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 0405-15.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:clu:wpaper:0405-15
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  1. Shubham Chaudhuri & Rajiv Sethi, 2008. "Statistical Discrimination with Peer Effects: Can Integration Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(2), pages 579-596.
  2. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do about It?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 25-42, Winter.
  3. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Corrigenda [Introduction to the Economics of Religion]," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 1941-1941, December.
  4. Paul R. Milgrom, 1979. "Good Nevs and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Discussion Papers 407R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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  6. Glaeser, Edward L & Glendon, Spencer, 1998. "Who Owns Guns? Criminals, Victims, and the Culture of Violence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 458-62, May.
  7. Sah, Raaj K, 1991. "Social Osmosis and Patterns of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1272-95, December.
  8. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 5026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. O'Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2007. "Crime and segregation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(3-4), pages 391-405.
  10. Moro, Andrea & Norman, Peter, 2004. "A general equilibrium model of statistical discrimination," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 114(1), pages 1-30, January.
  11. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-61, September.
  12. Laurence R. Iannaccone, 1998. "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1465-1495, September.
  13. Michael Grossman & Sara Markowitz, 1999. "Alcohol Regulation and Violence on College Campuses," NBER Working Papers 7129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Dan Silverman, 2004. "Street Crime And Street Culture," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 761-786, 08.
  15. Akerlof, George A, 1976. "The Economics of Caste and of the Rat Race and Other Woeful Tales," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 599-617, November.
  16. Witte, Ann Dryden, 1980. "Estimating the Economic Model of Crime with Individual Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 57-84, February.
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