The Net Effect of the Business Cycle on Crime and Violence

34 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2010

See all articles by Shawn D. Bushway

Shawn D. Bushway

University at Albany; RAND Corporation

Philip J. Cook

Duke University - Sanford School of Public Policy; Duke University, Dept. of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Matthew Phillips

University of Miami

Date Written: July 13, 2010

Abstract

The paper analyzes the causal effects of the business cycle on crime. Among the main conclusions are that robbery and burglary are countercyclical, motor vehicle theft is pro-cyclical, and criminal homicide is acyclical. We also analyze suicide patterns, finding that while suicide rates overall are countercyclical, suicide rates by younger teens are actually procyclical. The paper begins with a discussion of causal mechanisms linking economic conditions to crime and violence, both overall and for youths. We investigate the effect of short-term fluctuations in economic activity on crime and violence (and on arrest rates) using the quasi-experimental analysis of the last 13 business cycles (beginning in 1933). We then develop and implement a second approach, a regression analysis on detrended data, and report the results. The regression analysis generally confirms the qualitative results from the quasi-experimental approach, and provides estimates of magnitudes.

Keywords: Crime, Business Cycle

JEL Classification: K42, E32

Suggested Citation

Bushway, Shawn D. and Cook, Philip J. and Phillips, Matthew, The Net Effect of the Business Cycle on Crime and Violence (July 13, 2010). Duke Department of Economics Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1655741 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1655741

Shawn D. Bushway

University at Albany ( email )

324 Milne Hall
Albany, NY 12222
United States

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
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Philip J. Cook (Contact Author)

Duke University - Sanford School of Public Policy ( email )

201 Science Drive
Box 90312
Durham, NC 27708-0239
United States
919-613-7360 (Phone)
919-681-8288 (Fax)

Duke University, Dept. of Economics

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Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Matthew Phillips

University of Miami ( email )

Coral Gables, FL 33124
United States

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