The L.A. Riot and the Economics of Urban Unrest

40 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2012 Last revised: 2 Oct 2014

See all articles by Denise DiPasquale

Denise DiPasquale

City Research

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 1996

Abstract

The Los Angeles riot of 1992 resulted in 52 deaths, 2,500 injuries and at least $446 million in property damage; this staggering toll rekindled interest in understanding the underlying causes of the widespread social phenomenon of rioting. We examine the causes of rioting using international data, evidence from the race riots of the 1960s in the U.S., and Census data on Los Angeles, 1990. We find some support for the notions that the opportunity costs of time and the potential costs of punishment influence the incidence and intensity of riots. Beyond these individual costs and benefits, community structure matters. In our results, ethnic diversity seems a significant determinant of rioting, while we find little evidence that poverty in the community matters.

Suggested Citation

DiPasquale, Denise and Glaeser, Edward L., The L.A. Riot and the Economics of Urban Unrest (February 1996). NBER Working Paper No. w5456. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3140

Denise DiPasquale (Contact Author)

City Research ( email )

111 Atlantic Ave., Suite 311
Boston, MA 02110
United States

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Room 315A
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Brookings Institution

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Washington, DC 20036-2188
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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United States

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