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Economic Conditions, Deterrence and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from Micro Data

  • H. Naci Mocan
  • Daniel I. Rees

This is the first paper to test the economic model of crime for juveniles using micro data. It uses a nationally representative sample of 16,478 high school children surveyed in 1995. The sample includes not only detailed information on offenses, but also data on personal, family and neighborhood characteristics as well as deterrence measures. We analyze the determinants of selling drugs, committing assault, robbery, burglary and theft, separately for males and females. We find that an increase in violent crime arrests reduces the probability of selling drugs and assaulting someone for males, and reduces the probability of selling drugs and stealing for females. An increase in local unemployment increases the propensity to commit crimes, as does local poverty. Similarly, family poverty increases the probability to commit robbery, burglary and theft for males, and assault and burglary for females. Local characteristics are more important for females than males. The results also indicate that family supervision has an impact on delinquent behavior. These results show that juveniles do respond to incentives and sanctions as predicted by economic theory. Employment opportunities, increased family income and more strict deterrence are effective tools to reduce juvenile crime.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w7405.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7405.

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Date of creation: Oct 1999
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Publication status: published as H. Naci Mocan & Daniel I. Rees, 2005. "Economic Conditions, Deterrence and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from Micro Data," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 319-349.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7405
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  1. Cornwell, Christopher & Trumbull, William N, 1994. "Estimating the Economic Model of Crime with Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 360-66, May.
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  9. H. Naci Mocan & Hope Corman, 2000. "A Time-Series Analysis of Crime, Deterrence, and Drug Abuse in New York City," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 584-604, June.
  10. Richard B. Freeman, 1985. "Who Escapes? The Relation of Church-Going & Other Background Factors to the Socio-Economic Performance of Blk. Male Yths. from Inner-City Pvrty Tracts," NBER Working Papers 1656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Meyers, Samuel L, Jr, 1983. "Estimating the Economic Model of Crime: Employment versus Punishment Effects," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(1), pages 157-66, February.
  13. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
  14. W. Kip Viscusi, 1986. "Market Incentives for Criminal Behavior," NBER Chapters, in: The Black Youth Employment Crisis, pages 301-351 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. John J. DiIulio, 1996. "Help Wanted: Economists, Crime and Public Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
  16. Tauchen, Helen & Witte, Ann Dryden & Griesinger, Harriet, 1994. "Criminal Deterrence: Revisiting the Issue with a Birth Cohort," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(3), pages 399-412, August.
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