IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

An Economic Study of U.S. Aircraft Hijacking, 1960-1976

Listed author(s):
  • William M. Landes

This study attempts to explain the general pattern of aircraft hijacking in the U.S. between 1361 and 1976, the reasons for the dramatic reduction in hijackings after 1972, and the costs and benefits of regulation instituted in 1973 that required mandatory preboarding searches of all passengers and carry-on luggage. The main findings of the paper can be summarized as follows: (1) Increases in the probability of apprehension, the conditional probability of incarceration and the sentence are associated with significant reductions in aircraft hijackings in the 1961 to 1976 time period. These findings are based on two methods of estimating the rate of hijackings , a quarterly time series and the time or flight intervals between successive hijackings, and alternative estimates of the deterrence variables. (2) Regression estimates from the sample period ending in 1972 were used to forecast the number of additional hijackings that would have taken place between 1973 and 1976 if (a) mandatory screening had not been instituted and (b) the probability of apprehension (once the hijacking is attempted) had remained constant and equal to its 1972 value. Under these assumptions, there would have been between 41 and 67 additional hijackings compared to the 11 that actually occurred in the 1973 to 1976 period. (3) Although the mandatory screening program is highly effective in terms of the number of hijackings prevented, its costs appear enormous. The estimated net increase in security costs due to the screening program (which does not include the time and inconvenience costs to persons searched) is $194.24 million over the 1973 to 1976 period. This, in turn, translates into a $3.24 to $9.25 million expenditure to deter a single hijacking. Put differently, if the dollar equivalent of the loss to an individual hijacked passenger were in the range of $76,718 to $219,221, then the costs of screening would just offset the expected hijacking losses.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0210.

in new window

Date of creation: Oct 1977
Publication status: published as Landes, William M. "An Economic Study of U.S. Aircraft Hijacking, 1960-1976 ." Journal of Law and Economics, (April 1978).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0210
Note: LE
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0210. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.