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

  • John Smith

    ()

    (Rutgers University-Camden)

  • Olugbenga Ajilore

    ()

    (University of Toledo)

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.

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Paper provided by Rutgers University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 200708.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: 11 Oct 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rut:rutres:200708
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  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. 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.
  3. Machin, Stephen & Marie, Olivier, 2005. "Crime and Police Resources: The Street Crime Initiative," IZA Discussion Papers 1853, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Kenneth Burdett & Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2003. "Crime, Inequality, and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1764-1777, December.
  7. Vigdor, Jacob L., 2002. "Interpreting ethnic fragmentation effects," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 271-276, April.
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