NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Cheng Cheng

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Working Papers

June 2012Does Strengthening Self-Defense Law Deter Crime or Escalate Violence? Evidence from Castle Doctrine
with Mark Hoekstra: w18134
From 2000 to 2010, more than 20 states passed laws that make it easier to use lethal force in self-defense. Elements of these laws include removing the duty to retreat in places outside of one’s home, adding a presumption of reasonable belief of imminent harm, and removing civil liability for those acting under the law. This paper examines whether aiding self-defense in this way deters crime or, alternatively, increases homicide. To do so, we apply a difference-in-differences research design by exploiting the within-state variation in law adoption. We find no evidence of deterrence; burglary, robbery, and aggravated assault are unaffected by the laws. On the other hand, we find that homicides are increased by around 8 percent, and that these homicides are largely classified by police ...

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