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Doing Their Duty: An Empirical Analysis of the Unintended Effect of Tarasoff v Regents on Homicidal Activity


Griffin Sims Edwards


University of Alabama at Birmingham - Department of Marketing, Industrial Distribution & Economics

January 29, 2010

Emory Law and Economics Research Paper No. 10-61

Abstract:     
The seminal ruling of Tarasoff v. Regents enacted a duty that required mental health providers to warn potential victims of any real threat to life made by a patient. Many have theorized that this required breach of confidentiality may have adverse effects on effective psychological treatment - but the question remains unanswered empirically. Due to the presence of duty to warn laws, patients might forego mental health treatment that leads them to violence. Using a fixed effects model and exploiting the variation in the timing and style of duty to warn laws across states, I find that mandatory duty to warn laws cause an increase in homicides of 5%. These results are robust to model specifications, falsification tests, and help to clarify the true effect of state duty to warn laws.

Keywords: Duty to warn, mental health, homicide

JEL Classification: K13, K32

working papers series


Not Available For Download

Date posted: February 1, 2010 ; Last revised: January 10, 2014

Suggested Citation

Edwards, Griffin Sims, Doing Their Duty: An Empirical Analysis of the Unintended Effect of Tarasoff v Regents on Homicidal Activity (January 29, 2010). Emory Law and Economics Research Paper No. 10-61. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1544574 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1544574

Contact Information

Griffin Sims Edwards (Contact Author)
University of Alabama at Birmingham - Department of Marketing, Industrial Distribution & Economics ( email )
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
1720 2nd Ave South
Birmingham, AL 35294
United States
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