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Volatile Interest Rates, Volatile Crime Rates: A new argument for interest-rate smoothing

  • Garett Jones

    ()

  • Ali Kutan

    ()

Good monetary policy requires estimates of all of its effects: monetary policy impacts traditional economic variables such as output, unemployment rates, and inflation. But does monetary policy influence crime rates? By extending the vector autoregression literature, we derive estimates of the dynamic effect of higher interest rates on crime rates. Higher interest rates have socially and statistically significant positive effects on rates of theft and knife robberies, while effects on rates of burglary and assault are smaller and statistically insignificant. Higher interest rates have no effect on homicide rates. We conclude that monetary policy influences the rate of economically-motivated crimes.

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File URL: http://www.wdi.umich.edu/files/Publications/WorkingPapers/wp694.pdf
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Paper provided by William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan in its series William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series with number 2004-694.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: 01 May 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2004-694
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  1. Freeman, Richard B., 1999. "The economics of crime," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 52, pages 3529-3571 Elsevier.
  2. Brunner, Allan D, 2000. "On the Derivation of Monetary Policy Shocks: Should We Throw the VAR Out with the Bath Water?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(2), pages 254-79, May.
  3. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1997. "Monetary policy shocks: what have we learned and to what end?," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-97-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  4. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  5. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do About It?," NBER Working Papers 5451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-90, June.
  7. 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.
  8. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1981. "On the Usefulness of Controlling Individuals: An Economic Analysis of Rehabilitation, Incapacitation, and Deterrence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 307-22, June.
  9. Jeff Grogger, 1997. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," NBER Working Papers 5983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
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