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American Economic Journal: Economic Policy: Vol. 6 No. 2 (May 2014)

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Life and Death in the Fast Lane: Police Enforcement and Traffic Fatalities

Article Citation

DeAngelo, Gregory, and Benjamin Hansen. 2014. "Life and Death in the Fast Lane: Police Enforcement and Traffic Fatalities." American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 6(2): 231-57.

DOI: 10.1257/pol.6.2.231

Abstract

Simultaneity complicates the estimation of the causal effect of police on crime. We overcome this obstacle by focusing on a mass layoff of Oregon State Police in February of 2003. Due solely to budget cuts, 35 percent of the roadway troopers were laid off, which dramatically reduced citations. The subsequent decrease in enforcement is associated with a significant increase in injuries and fatalities. The effects are similar using control groups chosen either geographically or through data-driven methods. Our estimates suggest that a highway fatality can be prevented with $309,000 of expenditures on state police.

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Authors

DeAngelo, Gregory (TX Tech U)
Hansen, Benjamin (U OR)

JEL Classifications

H76: State and Local Government: Other Expenditure Categories
K42: Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
R41: Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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