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Crime, Expectations and The Deterrence Hypothesis

Empirical tests of the deterrence hypothesis - the idea that crime can be deterred through changes in the costs or benefits derived from committing crime - typically focus on estimation of the relationship between current crime rates and contemporaneous measures of economic conditions, demographics, and enforcement levels. We argue this approach is misguided because both past behavior and future conditions should impact decisions to commit a crime in the present. Accordingly, we develop an econometric model of aggregate crime rates that includes past behavior and expectations of future conditions. Model estimates suggest that expectations of future conditions are important in determining current crime rates. One implication of this finding is that the long run elasticity of crime rates with respect to policy variables may be orders of magnitude larger than short run elasticities, and depend upon whether the change is permanent or transitory. A second implication of this finding is that credibility and the ability of policy makers to commit are important in thinking about policies designed to deter crime.

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File URL: http://econ.hunter.cuny.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/RePEc/papers/HunterEconWP425.pdf
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Paper provided by Hunter College Department of Economics in its series Economics Working Paper Archive at Hunter College with number 425.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:htr:hcecon:425
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Web page: http://econ.hunter.cuny.edu/

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  1. Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 2004. "Crime and Economic Incentives," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
  2. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  3. Waldfogel, Joel, 1994. "Does conviction have a persistent effect on income and employment?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 103-119, March.
  4. Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1156-1185, December.
  5. Joanne M. Doyle & Ehsan Ahmed & Robert N. Horn, 1999. "The Effects of Labor Markets and Income Inequality on Crime: Evidence from Panel Data," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(4), pages 717-738, April.
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  7. Becker, Gary S & Grossman, Michael & Murphy, Kevin M, 1994. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 396-418, June.
  8. Lawrence Katz & Steven D. Levitt & Ellen Shustorovich, 2003. "Prison Conditions, Capital Punishment, and Deterrence," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 318-343, August.
  9. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 1995. "The [un]importance of forward-looking behavior in price specifications," Working Papers 95-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  10. Richard Paap & Frank Kleibergen, 2004. "Generalized Reduced Rank Tests using the Singular Value Decomposition," Econometric Society 2004 Australasian Meetings 195, Econometric Society.
  11. Daniel Kessler & Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation," NBER Working Papers 6484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence From Prison Overcrowding Litigation," NBER Working Papers 5119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Daniel Nagin & Joel Waldfogel, 1993. "The Effect of Convicton on Income Through the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 4551, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Donohue III, John J. & Wolfers, Justin, 2006. "Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate," IZA Discussion Papers 1949, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
  16. 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.
  17. Donohue, John J. & Levitt, Steven D., 2000. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt00p599hk, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  18. Ian Ayres & John J. Donohue III, 2002. "Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 9336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Lott, John R, Jr, 1992. "Do We Punish High Income Criminals Too Heavily?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(4), pages 583-608, October.
  21. Christopher F Baum & Mark E. Schaffer & Steven Stillman, 2007. "Enhanced routines for instrumental variables/generalized method of moments estimation and testing," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 7(4), pages 465-506, December.
  22. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  23. 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.
  24. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
  25. Levitt, Steven D, 1998. "Why Do Increased Arrest Rates Appear to Reduce Crime: Deterrence, Incapacitation, or Measurement Error?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 353-72, July.
  26. Grogger, Jeff, 1998. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 756-91, October.
  27. 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.
  28. Cameron, Samuel, 1994. "A review of the econometric evidence on the effects of capital punishment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 197-214.
  29. Morgan Kelly, 2000. "Inequality And Crime," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 530-539, November.
  30. Marvell, Thomas B & Moody, Carlisle E, 2001. "The Lethal Effects of Three-Strikes Laws," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 89-106, January.
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