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The Independent Institute
Working Paper #34

Homicide Rates and Substance Control Policy


Abstract: One theory of the primary cause of violent crime in the United States is that the prohibition of alcohol or drugs drives up the prices of these substances which creates a highly profitable and violent black market. In this paper I test this theory against other theories by performing a time series regression analysis between the United States' homicide rate and proxies for substance control policy, unemployment, gun control policy, religious activity, and drug use. Available data sets during the time period 1900 to 1997 are studied. My research indicates that the theory of the primary cause of violent crime in the United States which is most consistent with the available data is a violent black market caused by the War on Drugs today, and Prohibition in the 1920's.


Kirby R. Cundiff is an Associate Professor of Finance at Northeastern State University.