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Youth Gangs as Pseudo-Governments: Implications for Violent Crime

27 Pages Posted: 16 May 2007  

Russell S. Sobel

The Citadel - School of Business

Brian J. Osoba

University of Texas at El Paso

Date Written: November 15, 2006

Abstract

We hypothesize the failure of government to protect the rights of individuals from violence committed by youths has led to the formation of youth gangs as protective agencies. Our theory predicts an opposite direction of causality between gang activity and violent crime than is widely accepted. While areas with more gang activity also have more violence, our theory suggests gangs form as protection agencies precisely in areas with high violent crime rates. While gangs, like governments, use violence to enforce rules, the net impact of gangs is to lower violent crime. We test this hypothesis and offer significant policy implications.

Keywords: gangs, violence, government failure, youth, violent crime

JEL Classification: D74, H11, K42

Suggested Citation

Sobel, Russell S. and Osoba, Brian J., Youth Gangs as Pseudo-Governments: Implications for Violent Crime (November 15, 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=986363 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.986363

Russell S. Sobel (Contact Author)

The Citadel - School of Business ( email )

171 Moultrie St.
Charleston, SC 29409
United States

Brian J. Osoba

University of Texas at El Paso ( email )

500 West University
El Paso, TX TX 79968-0545
United States

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