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Friday, June 17, 2005

Libertarians for More Government

A while back, I blogged about how my colleague and buddy (and future guest-blogger?) Jon Klick was given an endowed chair after one year in the academy.  In Thursday's NYT Economic Scene column by Virginia Postrel, one of Jon's co-written pieces is discussed at length.  The piece, which came out in the April 2005 Journal of Law and Economics, is called "Using Terror Alert Levels to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime."

A copy of the article is available at this link hereThe upshot of the article is that "more police officers in fact reduce crime." 

Apparently this intuitive result runs against some of the conventional wisom among various social scientists.  But for these two economists with libertarian streaks, the results of empiricism are robust:

Money quotes from the NYT piece:

the case for adding more police officers is strong. Using generally accepted cost estimates, Professor Tabarrok said, every $1 to add officers would reduce the costs of crime by $4. The authors did not identify a point of diminishing returns.  "We estimate that if we had a 10 percent increase in police, crime would go down by about 4 percent," he said, adding that researchers taking other approaches have come up with similar numbers. Nationally, he said, "that means about 700,000 fewer property crimes and 213,000 fewer violent crimes." As a back-of-the-envelope calculation, Professor Klick offered an even more striking suggestion. "It wouldn't be unreasonable," he said, "based on our estimates and based on conservative estimates of the costs of crime, to say it would be cost-effective to actually double the number of people working in police forces, which is pretty amazing."

Posted by Administrators on June 17, 2005 at 08:02 AM in Funky FSU, Law and Politics | Permalink


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