Fracking has driven an oil and natural gas boom in the US over the past decade. This column examines the impact these mining activities have had on local and regional economies. US counties enjoy significant economic benefits, including increased wages and new job creation. These effects grow as the geographic radius is extended to include neighbouring areas in the region. The results suggest that the fracking boom provided some insulation for these areas during the Great Recession, and lowered national unemployment by as much as 0.5%.
James Feyrer, Erin T. Mansur, Bruce Sacerdote, 16 November 2015
Ignacio Munyo, Martín Rossi, 03 July 2015
Sadly, a large number of crimes are committed by ex-prisoners on their first day of release. This column presents evidence showing that on any given day the number of inmates released from incarceration significantly affects the number of offences committed on that day. ‘First-day recidivism’ can be eliminated by an increase in the gratuity provided to prisoners at the time of their release. It’s much cheaper than any other option.
Dirk Niepelt, 21 January 2015
Recent experience with the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates, and the use of high-denomination notes by criminals and tax evaders, have led to revived proposals to phase out cash. This column argues that abolishing cash may be neither necessary nor sufficient to overcome the zero lower bound problem, and would severely undermine privacy. Allowing the public to hold reserves at central banks could reduce the need for deposit insurance, although the transition to the new regime and the effects on credit supply must be carefully considered.
Yves Zenou, 08 January 2015
Targeting key players in a network can have important effects due to multipliers arising from peer effects. This column argues that this is particularly true for crime –the success in reducing crime in Chicago was due to the targeting of 400 key players rather than spending resources on more general targets. Key-player policies in crime, education, R&D networks, financial networks, and diffusion of microfinance outperform other policies such as targeting the most active agents in a network.
Arnaud Chevalier, Olivier Marie, 08 November 2014
Children born in crises face different initial conditions. Data on children born in East Germany just after the Berlin Wall came down confirms that this corresponds to worse adult outcomes. ‘Children of the Wall’ have 40% higher arrest rates, are 33% more likely to have repeated a grade by age 12, and are 9% more likely to have been put into a lower educational track. This column argues that these negative outcomes can be explained by the lower average parenting skills of those who decided to have children during a period of high economic uncertainty.
Bart Golsteyn, Hans Grönqvist, Lena Lindahl, 19 August 2014
Time preference has substantial economic consequences. To a growing literature that shows patience to be an important indicator of economic outcomes, this column presents new evidence from a large administrative dataset that tracks children into adulthood. Those who reported more patient preferences as children move on to better labour market and health outcomes, and are less likely to become criminals.
Vicky Pryce, 15 February 2014
Vicky Pryce talks to Viv Davies about her recent book ‘Prisonomics: Behind bars in Britain’s failing prisons’, which analyses the economic and social costs and consequences of women in prison and women’s prisons in the UK. Pryce presents the case for penal reform and provides a number of policy recommendations. The interview was recorded in London in January 2014.
Stephen Machin, Olivier Marie, 30 January 2014
In many settings, criminal behaviour can be analysed just like any other economic decision-making process, namely – as the outcome of individual choices influenced by perceived consequences. This column explains the advantages of adopting an economic approach to understanding crime. Furthermore, criminal law and crime-prevention programmes can be evaluated using the same normative techniques applied to health, education, and environmental regulation.
Anna Aizer, Joseph Doyle, 16 July 2013
The US imprisons more young people at a higher rate than any other nation. This column argues that, at a tremendous cost, incarcerating juveniles only serves to reduce their educational attainment and increase the probability of incarceration as an adult. New research suggests that using the numerous available alternatives will probably not only save the US money in the short run – as well as giving juvenile criminals better prospects in the future – but will also reduce future crime and thus future expenditures in the long run.
Matthew O. Jackson, Yves Zenou, 09 September 2012
This paper provides an overview and synthesis of the literatures analysing games where players are connected via a network structure. While it focuses on the game theoretic modeling, it also also include some discussion of analyses of peer effects, as well as applications to diffusion, employment, crime, industrial organisation, and education.
Ben Vollaard, 24 August 2012
How to reduce incarceration rates without fuelling a crime boom? This column argues that by being more selective over whom to lock up and for how long, scarce public funds can be put to better use.
Giancarlo Spagnolo, 13 August 2012
How to save the banks but not the bankers? This column argues that fines for criminal behaviour in banks are not enough – it may be time to start locking people up.
Arcangelo Dimico, Ola Olsson, Alessia Isopi, 13 May 2012
If it were a business, the Mafia would be one of Italy’s most successful and one of the largest in Europe. But how did it come to be so powerful? This column argues that it began with control of the international lemon trade in the 19th century.
Guglielmo Barone, Gaia Narciso, 05 May 2012
Can organised crime divert public spending? This column presents evidence of the Mafia influencing public transfers and argues that geographically targeted aid should take into account the risk that at least part of the funding feeds into organised crime.
Randi Hjalmarsson, Helena Holmlund, Matthew Lindquist, 29 November 2011
How should society fight crime? This column argues education policy should be part of the answer. Exploiting a Swedish education reform as a source of exogenous variation in years of education, it suggests that one additional year of schooling decreases the likelihood of conviction by 7.5% for males and by 11% for females.
Sendhil Mullainathan, Jens Ludwig, 01 November 2011
According to the famous White House saying, policymakers should never let a crisis go to waste. This column argues that economists shouldn’t do so either. Instead of cursing about cuts in research funding, they should look at cheaper ways to evaluate policy – perhaps through mechanism experiments.
Lance Lochner, 17 October 2011
Given recent budget problems around the world, many governments have proposed sharp cuts to education. What are the likely long-run costs of these cuts? This column reviews a growing body of studies and concludes that crime rates are likely to increase, health and mortality are likely to deteriorate, and political and social institutions may suffer.
Philip Cook, John MacDonald, 10 July 2011
In the US, more people work in private security than in all police forces combined, yet public debate about crime prevention typically looks at the use of public resources to deter, incapacitate, or rehabilitate criminals. This column calls for more discussion of how private action can make policing more effective and reduce the profitability of crime. One such experiment – “business improvement districts” in Los Angeles – has generated remarkable social benefits.
Ben Vollaard, Jan van Ours, 07 July 2011
Potential victims often ward off crime by taking appropriate precautions. This column argues that government policy targeted at strengthening the precautionary response of potential victims can make a big difference. It shows that mandating the installation of burglar-resistant features in residential construction in the Netherlands reduced burglary risk by 26%.
Axel Dreher, Seo-Young Cho, Eric Neumayer, 10 March 2011
According to the US Department of State, there are more than 12 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. This column presents a new index to measure the spread of anti-trafficking policies. It suggests they mainly diffuse across contiguous countries and main trading partners, due to externality effects, and also via political and cultural similarities, due to learning and emulation.