Keep the Kids Inside? Juvenile Curfews and Urban Gun Violence
26 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2014 Last revised: 28 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 1, 2015
Gun violence is an important problem across the United States. However, the impact of government policies on the frequency and location of gunfire has been difficult to test due to limited data. The data that do exist suffer from broad and non-random underreporting. This paper uses a new, more accurate source of data on gunfire incidents to measure the effects of juvenile curfews in Washington, DC. Juvenile curfews are a common, but extremely controversial, policy used in cities across the United States. Their goal is to reduce violent crime by keeping would-be offenders and victims indoors, but removing bystanders and witnesses from the streets could reduce their deterrent effect on street crime. The net effect on public safety is therefore ambiguous. We use exogenous variation in the hours of the DC curfew to identify the policy’s causal effect on gun violence. We find that, contrary to its goal of improving public safety, DC’s juvenile curfew increases the number of gunfire incidents by 150% during marginal hours.
Keywords: juvenile curfew, crime, shotspotter, guns, incapacitation
JEL Classification: K42, H7
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation