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Crime and Law Enforcement
Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020
8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (PDT)
American Economic Association
Do Concealed Carry Laws Affect Police Shootings?
Since the late ’80s, concealed carry laws have sparked an ongoing conversation regarding their effect on crime and homicides. However, up to now no attention has been paid to the way these laws could affect the police, and they are the ones that have to deal with these concealed-carriers. This paper attempts to shed light on the consequences more lenient concealed-carry requirements have on fatal police shootings.
Lenient concealed carry laws translate into more guns on the street, which in turn increases the likelihood of any given person being armed and may lead police officers to change their behavior. This effect is complicated by the fact that as the laws become more lenient, the marginal gun-carrying civilian becomes less qualified.
Using data on fatal police shootings from two different sources and a difference-in- differences approach, this paper finds that: when a state adopts Right-to-Carry (RTC) laws, which allow citizens who meet state requirements to carry concealed weapons, the rate of people fatally shot by police officers decreases by 3.6%, which is attributed to a decrease in police interactions with the public, measured by the rate of arrests. Switching from RTC to Permitless Carry (PC), which does not require a permit to carry a concealed gun, increases the rate of people fatally shot by police by 5.2%. This effect is due to the fact that citizens considered unqualified under RTC can carry concealed weapons under PC, increasing the risk that police officers face when interacting with the public.
The Political Economy of Immigration Enforcement: Conflict and Cooperation under Federalism
We study how the shared responsibilities over immigration enforcement by local and federal levels in the US shape immigration and law enforcement outcomes, using detailed data on the Secure Communities program (2008-2014). Tracking the pipeline taking arrested unlawfully present individuals through the several steps of the immigration enforcement process, and exploiting a large shift in federal immigration enforcement priorities in mid 2011, we disentangle the three key components of the variation in deportation rates: federal enforcement efforts, local enforcement efforts, and the composition of the pool of arrestees. This decomposition allows us to recover the local (county) level immigration enforcement response to changes in federal immigration enforcement intensity. Among urban counties, 80 percent, mostly Democratic but with small shares of Hispanics, exhibit strategic substitutabilities.
The inverse relationship between federal and local efforts was accompanied by an increased misalignment of local and federal preferences. Increased conflict is driven by a change in the types of undocumented individuals prioritized for removal by the federal level. However, the federal level is very effective in directing its enforcement efforts towards counties where it expects local collaboration. Local immigration enforcement efforts are correlated with improvements in policing efficiency, suggesting that heterogeneity in law enforcement outcomes closely depends on overall immigration enforcement intensity.
Young Men, Cheap Guns, and the Crime Wave of the 1960s and 1970s
Crime in the United States increased substantially from the early 1960s to the mid 1970s, with homicide rates doubling. We investigate the role of an increase in the supply of handguns during this period. As trade barriers around the world fell, and countries, in particular West Germany, rebuilt their manufacturing capacity, the prices of durable goods generally fell by rough 10% over the 1960s. Using a novel dataset of gun prices we find that Imported handgun prices fell considerably during the 1960s, with a large increase in imports - a classic supply increase phenomenon. In the months leading up to the Gun Control Act of 1968 nearly 100,000 handguns were imported every month into the United States, with half coming from West Germany. Proxies for gun ownership increase substantially, with gun suicide rates, both in levels and as a fraction of all suicides, increasing across the 1960s and 1970s. We find a strong leading relationship between gun access proxies for young men at the county level and local homicides during this period. In the wake of the GCA (with the drastic reduction in imported handguns) and the end of the draft there is a temporary dip in gun suicides among young men. Domestic production rapidly grew to fill in the imported handgun gap from 1968-1970.
The Impact of Punishments on Defendants and Their Families
Around the world, criminal justice systems face the question of how to reduce criminal activity. It is of critical importance to understand a) how do different types of punishments directly impact defendant outcomes (such as future criminal activity and labor market participation) and b) what important spillovers might these different punishments have on defendants' families. In this paper we attempt to answer both of these questions using unique data from Finland. We start with descriptive evidence documenting the “ladder” approach to addressing crime in the Nordic countries. Specifically, criminologists have advocated a graduated approach to punishments, starting with warnings, then fines, then probation, and then prison. We find that this captures both the road to more severe criminal activity among defendants and the use of punishments to deter such criminal activity. Next, we examine the causal impact of harsher punishments at each stage in the process. Using random assignment to judges, we estimate the impact of each of these punishments on future recidivism and labor market outcomes of the defendants, as well as the impact on defendants' partners and children. As such, this paper provides novel evidence on the role that different punishments may have on deterring future criminal activity and the spillovers of such punishments.
The Changing Determinants of Juvenile Crime: Evidence from Micro Data
The decline crime between the 1980s and 2000s in the US is well documented. There are numerous theories that explore the channels that led to this decline. We analyse the trends in youth crime participation and substance use, and examine some of the popular theories. We use rich individual level data for the 1980s and 2000s cohorts from the NLSY79 and NLSY97, that also provide a range of criminal activity and substance use measures.
We document a number of empirical findings. First, there are persistent differences in personal and family background characteristics of youth who participate in risky behaviors and crime differ from those who do not. Second, the roles of family background, individual ability and local environment matter in explaining risky behaviors are changing over time. Most notable are the changing patterns in crime and substance use participation by family structure, skills, and urban status. Third, we test a number of existing theories that aim to explain the drop in crime in the US. The changing distributions of individual and family background characteristics do not explain the decline in crime. This finding does not support the popular legalization of abortion theory. We cannot explain the decline in crime using cross-state variation in police numbers or socio-economic measures. On the other hand, changes in demand and supply of crack and other drugs, changes in the structure of earnings and employment opportunities, as well as anti-crime reforms in large cities, may explain an important fraction of the decline in crime. Fourth, we analyze the consequences of crime participation. There is some evidence of changing selection into crime participation, increasing conviction rates and changing attractiveness of crime have the potential to explain some of the decline in crime.
D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making