Inequality, Crime, and the Long Run: Legacy of Slavery

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

Estimating the effect of inequality on crime is challenging due to reverse
causality and omitted variable bias. This paper addresses these concerns
by exploiting the fact that, as suggested by recent scholarly research, the
legacy of slavery is largely manifested in persistent levels of economic
inequality. Municipality-level economic inequality in Colombia is
instrumented with a census-based measure of the proportion of slaves
before the abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century. It is found that
inequality increases both property crime and violent crime. The estimates
are robust to including traditional determinants of crime (like population
density, proportion of young males, average education level, quality of
law enforcement institutions, and overall economic activity), as well as
geographic characteristics that may be correlated with both the slave
economy and with crime, and current ethnic differences. Policies aiming
at reducing structural crime should focus on reducing economic
inequality.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages35
StatePublished - Apr 2017

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slavery
offense
slave
economics
violent crime
population density
Colombia
law enforcement
causality
municipality
census
nineteenth century
determinants
economy
trend
education

Cite this

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title = "Inequality, Crime, and the Long Run: Legacy of Slavery",
abstract = "Estimating the effect of inequality on crime is challenging due to reversecausality and omitted variable bias. This paper addresses these concernsby exploiting the fact that, as suggested by recent scholarly research, thelegacy of slavery is largely manifested in persistent levels of economicinequality. Municipality-level economic inequality in Colombia isinstrumented with a census-based measure of the proportion of slavesbefore the abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century. It is found thatinequality increases both property crime and violent crime. The estimatesare robust to including traditional determinants of crime (like populationdensity, proportion of young males, average education level, quality oflaw enforcement institutions, and overall economic activity), as well asgeographic characteristics that may be correlated with both the slaveeconomy and with crime, and current ethnic differences. Policies aimingat reducing structural crime should focus on reducing economicinequality.",
author = "{Vargas Duque}, {Juan Fernando} and Paolo Buonanno",
year = "2017",
month = "4",
language = "English (US)",
type = "WorkingPaper",

}

Inequality, Crime, and the Long Run: Legacy of Slavery. / Vargas Duque, Juan Fernando; Buonanno, Paolo.

2017.

Research output: Working paper

TY - UNPB

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N2 - Estimating the effect of inequality on crime is challenging due to reversecausality and omitted variable bias. This paper addresses these concernsby exploiting the fact that, as suggested by recent scholarly research, thelegacy of slavery is largely manifested in persistent levels of economicinequality. Municipality-level economic inequality in Colombia isinstrumented with a census-based measure of the proportion of slavesbefore the abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century. It is found thatinequality increases both property crime and violent crime. The estimatesare robust to including traditional determinants of crime (like populationdensity, proportion of young males, average education level, quality oflaw enforcement institutions, and overall economic activity), as well asgeographic characteristics that may be correlated with both the slaveeconomy and with crime, and current ethnic differences. Policies aimingat reducing structural crime should focus on reducing economicinequality.

AB - Estimating the effect of inequality on crime is challenging due to reversecausality and omitted variable bias. This paper addresses these concernsby exploiting the fact that, as suggested by recent scholarly research, thelegacy of slavery is largely manifested in persistent levels of economicinequality. Municipality-level economic inequality in Colombia isinstrumented with a census-based measure of the proportion of slavesbefore the abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century. It is found thatinequality increases both property crime and violent crime. The estimatesare robust to including traditional determinants of crime (like populationdensity, proportion of young males, average education level, quality oflaw enforcement institutions, and overall economic activity), as well asgeographic characteristics that may be correlated with both the slaveeconomy and with crime, and current ethnic differences. Policies aimingat reducing structural crime should focus on reducing economicinequality.

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