The Wild West is Wild: The Homicide Resource Curse

42 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2014

See all articles by Mathieu Couttenier

Mathieu Couttenier

University of Lausanne - DEEP

Pauline A. Grosjean

UNSW Business School, School of Economics

Marc Sangnier

Aix-Marseille University - Aix-Marseille School of Economics

Date Written: March 9, 2014

Abstract

We uncover interpersonal violence as a dimension and a mechanism of the resource curse. We rely on a historical natural experiment in the United States, in which mineral discoveries occurred at various stages of governmental territorial expansion. "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.

Keywords: Homicide, Institutions, Resource curse, United States

JEL Classification: K42, N51, Z13

Suggested Citation

Couttenier, Mathieu and Grosjean, Pauline A. and Sangnier, Marc, The Wild West is Wild: The Homicide Resource Curse (March 9, 2014). UNSW Australian School of Business Research Paper No. 2014-12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2406707 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2406707

Mathieu Couttenier

University of Lausanne - DEEP ( email )

Université de Lausanne
Quartier UNIL-Dorigny
Lausanne, 1004
Switzerland

Pauline A. Grosjean (Contact Author)

UNSW Business School, School of Economics ( email )

High Street
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Marc Sangnier

Aix-Marseille University - Aix-Marseille School of Economics ( email )

5-9 Boulevard Bourdet
Marseille, 13001
France

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