Essays in Law and Economics
Billy, Alexander Richard
In this dissertation, I empirically analyze topics at the intersection of law and economics. In the first chapter, Michael Packard and I calculate the crime effects attributable to the Mariel Boatlift, the 1980 Cuban refugee crisis that increased Miami's population by nearly 10%. Using synthetic control methods to match Miami with cities that exhibit similar pre-intervention crime patterns, we find evidence the phenomenon comparatively increased property crime and murder rates; we also document weaker but suggestive relative growth in violent crime. Compositional features of the newcomers seemingly drive our results; the disproportionately young, male Cubans' characteristics highly correlate with illicit activity. Given the group’s unique composition and the absence of rigorous screening, our findings likely constitute the "upper bound'' of migration caused crime.Research to date on asset forfeiture has found authorities collect revenue by circumventing civil liberties safeguards. This activity seems to target minorities in fiscally constrained communities. In the second chapter, I use new data on asset forfeiture to show the literature drew conclusions from variables subject to substantial missing records. Prior research relied on confiscated property values. The validity of this metric depends on the ability of police to accurately appraise items like cars and weapons. I provide evidence these estimates fail to include a nontrivial number of cases, and plausibly misrepresent police behavior. This finding calls into question related policy and scholarly work. To better frame research, I describe summary statistics and seizure patterns capturing the number of forfeiture cases from the new data. I also revisit parameter estimates from the literature. I find prior studies potentially overstated the degree to which law enforcement exploit loopholes in laws intended to protect property owners. Likewise, I do not observe evidence law enforcement disproportionately seize property in debt-ridden communities.In January 2015, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) temporarily suspended a federal asset forfeiture program that grants local law enforcement the ability to retain property confiscated from suspected criminals. This tool enables authorities to circumvent state level requirements to deposit forfeiture revenue into general funds. In the final chapter, I exploit the DOJ's decision --- in conjunction with state forfeiture laws --- to measure the importance of federal financial incentives tied to property seizure via difference-in-differences. Contrary to implications from preexisting legal and empirical research, I find the loss of federal forfeiture revenue did not reduce confiscations or encourage other revenue generating activity.
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Fernandez Donoso, Jose (Georgetown University, 2014)The first chapter of this dissertation introduces the motivation, explains the system of international patents, and then itemizes the structure of the research. As a nonmarket route of technology diffusion, international ...