More riot notes

From Twitter, some further thoughts on the Baltimore riots and their implications:

In response, Twitter user @hamilt0n cites this NBER paper by William J. Collins and Robert A. Margo on the (very harmful) labor market effects of the 1960s riots, adds: “Riots=more spending, higher taxation, rich are mobile and flee, poor get stuck with the bill”

Sweetness and light in a New York Times “Crips and Bloods gangs come together to save Baltimore” story:

More from Liz Mair on how the rights just go to show what you already believed; Cathy Young (arguing, inter alia, that any system is going to accord police suspected of wrongdoing some advantages over other citizens in those circumstances and we might just as well accept this). Meanwhile, the seven-day 10 p.m. curfew threatens the livelihoods of thousands of Baltimoreans and small businesses [New York Times, Baltimore Sun]


  • Why riot? That is a good question.

    I think that e answer is that the rioters believe that they have nothing to lose. They have no property. They have no jobs (living off the dole). They have, for all intents and purposes, no home (living in public housing). So, they riot.

    I think a behavioral economist would generally state that a rational person acts in his/her best economic interest. In the case of the Baltimore riots, they have no economic interest in keeping the peace. So they riot.

    If we gave the rioters an economic incentive to be peaceful, they would be. The gangs in Baltimore famously entered into a truce. Why? Because having a peaceful city makes them better off, i.e., it is in their interests.

    So, how do we stop riots? We institute a system that disincentives rioting.

  • […] also posted lately at Overlawyered and Cato on the economics of how riots occur; in this roundup, on the very harmful aftermath of the 1960s riots for the labor market in affected communities; and […]