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A SIMPLE MODEL OF OPTIMAL HATE CRIME LEGISLATION

Authors

  • LI GAN,

    1. Gan: Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843. Phone 979-862-1667, Fax 979-847-8757, E-mail gan@econmail.tamu.edu
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  • ROBERTON C. WILLIAMS III,

    1. Williams: Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Maryland, Symons Hall, College Park, MD 20742. Phone 202-507-9729, Fax 301-314-9091, E-mail robwilliams@mail.utexas.edu
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  • THOMAS WISEMAN

    1. Wiseman: Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Texas, 1 University Station C3100, Austin, TX 78712. Phone 512-475-8516, Fax 512-471-3510, E-mail wiseman@eco.utexas.edu
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    • The authors thank Valerie Bencivenga, Jeff Ely, Don Fullerton, Dan Hamermesh, Preston McAfee, Gerald Oettinger , Steve Trejo, Abraham Wickelgren, seminar participants at the University of Texas, and Tim Brennan and two anonymous referees for their helpful suggestions.


Abstract

We present a simple model of the effects of hate crime legislation. We show that even if the direct harm to victims of hate crime is the same as for other crimes, because of other differences in the effects it may still be optimal to exert a different level of law-enforcement effort to deter or prevent hate crime. These differences also have previously unrecognized effects on the optimal level of effort by potential hate crime victims to avoid being victimized, thus affecting the efficiency of government policies that encourage or discourage such effort. In some cases, the optimal level of government effort may be lower for hate crimes than for other crimes. Our analysis suggests a role for policy tools that influence individual avoidance effort directly. We discuss the implications of our results for similar types of crime, including terrorism. (JEL K42, K14, D02)

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