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Civil unrest, emergency powers, and spillover effects: A mixed methods analysis of the 2005 French riots

Stéphane Mechoulan

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2020, vol. 177, issue C, 305-326

Abstract: From early to mid-November 2005, many French urban suburbs experienced riots. In the affected areas the government declared a state of emergency which gave the police extrajudicial powers. It remained in place until January. I investigate whether the riots generated criminal spillovers, whether the emergency powers deterred criminal activity, and whether the police used those powers opportunistically to bust crime unrelated to the riots. I supplement linear regressions with a non-parametric bounded-variation assumptions framework combined with a synthetic control approach, and interviews I conducted with two of the events’ key actors. Criminals did not take advantage of the riots to commit more crimes requiring planning. However, the riots triggered a surge of violent thefts. The state of emergency did not result in a decrease in delinquency. Several clues suggest a strategy of appeasement. Meanwhile, some serious crimes increased immediately after the riots ended, suggesting an emboldening effect. Evidence of police opportunism is scant.

Keywords: Riots; Opportunism; Crime; Police; Emergency powers; Bounded variation assumptions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:177:y:2020:i:c:p:305-326

DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2020.01.019

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