Privately Produced General Deterrence
Posted: 15 Jan 2002
Date Written: October 2001
In this study, we use county data on private security establishments and employment for 1977-92 to test two hypotheses. First, we test whether private security deters crime. Second, we test whether Lott and Mustard's estimates of the impact of shall-issue laws on crime are biased due to lack of controls for private security. We find little evidence that private security is reducing the crime rates for assault or larceny. Some estimates suggest murder, robbery, and/or auto theft may be deterred by private security, although these results are not robust. Of all the index crime categories, only rape is estimated to have a consistent negative relationship with private security. In addition, we find little evidence that the Lott and Mustard results are biased due to lack of controls for the private security measures employed in this study.
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