Economics of Violence and Its Prevention: Self, Interpersonal, Intergroup

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 2:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Sheraton Grand Chicago, Jackson Park
Hosted By: Association of Christian Economists
  • Chair: Julie Schaffner, Tufts University

Surviving the Great Recession: Suicide and Unemployment Rates During a Downturn

Timothy Classen
,
Loyola University Chicago

Abstract

Increasing mortality rates for individuals in the later stages of their careers has been identified as a troubling trend in recent studies, e.g. Case and Deaton (2015). This paper seeks to enhance our understanding of how economic crises affect mortality, specifically suicide rates. With more than 40,000 Americans committing suicide each year, this is a significant cause of lost years of life. The Great Recession of 2007-09 resulted in substantial increases in levels of economic distress, unemployment rates, and suicide rates among certain groups.

Previous theoretical and empirical research finds that challenging economic conditions elevate suicide rates (including Classen and Dunn (2012)), while other causes of mortality typically decline in recessions (Ruhm (2000)) or are unchanged (Ruhm (2013)). In this project, a theoretical model is specified for linkages between increased unemployment, economic distress, and suicide. An empirical model is estimated for annual state-level data on labor markets and suicide in the United States from the period from 1999 to 2015. Given the substantial gradient in levels and growth rates of suicides across racial and ethnic groups, this paper focuses on the effects of the increase in unemployment during the Great Recession on suicides among non-Hispanic whites. This group has experienced enormous increases in suicide rates over the past decade and the role of job loss and labor market distress (as captured by the unemployment rate) in this increase appears strongest for females and those later in their labor lifecycle. However, the relationship between rates of unemployment and suicide does not appear to be statistically significant once year and state-level fixed effects are included in our models. This research enhances our understanding of how economic shocks impact individuals’ health choices and highlight an area of growing concern in rising mortality for certain populations.

Looking Down the Barrel of a Loaded Gun: The Effect of Mandatory Handgun Purchase Delays on Homicide and Suicide

Griffin Sims Edwards
,
University of Alabama-Birmingham
Erik Nesson
,
Ball State University
Joshua Robinson
,
University of Alabama-Birmingham
Fredrick E. Vars
,
University of Alabama

Abstract

The effects of policies aimed to restrict firearm ownership and usage is a heavily debated topic in modern social science research. While much of the debate has focused on right-to-carry laws, less research has focused on other policies which affect firearm ownership and use, in particular statutory delays between the purchase and delivery of a firearm. In addition to the 1994 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which placed a mandatory five-day wait period between the purchase and delivery of a handgun, many states enacted similar policies before and after Brady’s effective years. We exploit within-state variation across time in both the existence of a purchase delay and length of the delay to examine the effect of purchase delays on firearm-related homicides and suicides. We find that the existence of a purchase delay reduces firearm related suicides by around 3 percent, with no statistical evidence of a substitution towards non-firearm suicides. We find no evidence that purchase delays are associated with statistically significant changes in homicide rates.

College Party Culture and Sexual Assault

Jason Lindo
,
Texas A&M University
Peter Siminski
,
University of Wollongong
Isaac Swensen
,
Montana State University

Abstract

This paper considers the degree to which events that intensify partying increase sexual assault. Estimates are based on panel data from campus and local law-enforcement agencies and an identification strategy that exploits plausibly random variation in the timing of Division 1 football games. The estimates indicate that these events increase daily reports of rape with 17-24 year old victims by 28 percent. The effects are driven largely by 17-24 year old offenders and by offenders unknown to the victim, but we also find significant effects on incidents involving offenders of other ages and on incidents involving offenders known to the victim.

Understanding Atrocity Crimes: Toward a Base Model

Charles Anderton
,
College of the Holy Cross
Jurgen Brauer
,
Augusta University and Chulalongkorn University

Abstract

We evaluate old and new streams of literature on economic choice theory to move toward an integrated perspective of choice that can be applied to the decisions of political leaders considering mass atrocity as well as to third parties seeking to prevent such an outcome. The integrated perspective builds upon standard rational choice theory (constrained optimization and game theory) and then incorporates key concepts from behavioral economics (e.g., reference-dependent utility, loss aversion), the economics of identity (e.g., social contexts, norms and values, identity utilities and disutilities), and the economics of (mis)information (e.g., propaganda, incomplete information).
Discussant(s)
Melissa Boyle
,
College of the Holy Cross
Jurgen Brauer
,
Augusta University and Chulalongkorn University
Bryan Engelhardt
,
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Judith Dean
,
Brandeis University
JEL Classifications
  • D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making