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Ethnic Fragmentation and Police Spending: Social Identity and a Public Good

Author

Listed:
  • John Smith

    () (Rutgers University-Camden)

  • Olugbenga Ajilore

    () (University of Toledo)

Abstract

We present evidence that more ethnically fragmented communities spend, all else equal, more on police services than less fragmented communities. We introduce a model of spending on police services which we use to interpret the data. In this model, we assume that the decision to commit a crime is a rational consideration of the costs and benefits and that spending on police services reduces the attractiveness of committing a crime. We also assume that being a victim of crime affects a loss in utility. However this victimization cost, if victim and perpetrator are a different ethnicity, is greater than or equal to that if the perpetrator is the same ethnicity. A consequence of the model is that a higher level of spending on police services is associated with more ethnically fragmented communities only when agents suffer this differential cost of victimization. These results contribute to our understanding of the stylized fact that spending on police services is increasing at a time in which crime rates are falling. Further, our results provide empirical support for the contention that people have a larger cost of victimization when the perpetrator is a different ethnicity.

Suggested Citation

  • John Smith & Olugbenga Ajilore, 2007. "Ethnic Fragmentation and Police Spending: Social Identity and a Public Good," Departmental Working Papers 200708, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:rut:rutres:200708
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    File URL: http://www.sas.rutgers.edu/virtual/snde/wp/2007-08.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Fender, John, 1999. "A general equilibrium model of crime and punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 437-453, July.
    2. Stephen Machin & Olivier Marie, 2011. "Crime And Police Resources: The Street Crime Initiative," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 678-701, August.
    3. Vigdor, Jacob L., 2002. "Interpreting ethnic fragmentation effects," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 271-276, April.
    4. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    5. Persson, Mats & Siven, Claes-Henric, 2006. "Incentive and incarceration effects in a general equilibrium model of crime," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 214-229, February.
    6. Simon Moore & Jonathan Shepherd, 2006. "The cost of fear: shadow pricing the intangible costs of crime," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(3), pages 293-300.
    7. Kenneth Burdett & Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2003. "Crime, Inequality, and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1764-1777, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ethnic Fragmentation; Police; Crime; Social Identity; Public Goods;

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • H76 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Other Expenditure Categories
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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