The Wild West is Wild: The Homicide Resource Curse
We uncover interpersonal violence as a dimension and a mechanism of the re- source curse. We rely on a historical natural experiment in the United States, in which mineral discoveries occurred at various stages of governmental territorial ex- pansion. “Early” mineral discoveries, before full-fledged rule of law is in place in a county, are associated with higher levels of interpersonal violence, both historically and today. The persistence of this homicide resource curse is partly explained by the low quality of (subsequent) judicial institutions. The specificity of our results to violent crime also suggests that a private order of property rights did emerge on the frontier, but that it was enforced through high levels of interpersonal violence. The results are robust to state-specific effects, to comparing only neighboring counties, and to comparing only discoveries within short time intervals of one another.
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