Gang Rivalry and Crime: A Differential Game Approach

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Review of Law and Economics


differential games, economics of crime, gang rivalry, gang-related crime, police enforcement


© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston. This study contributes to the modern literature on the economics of crime by proposing and solving two models of a differential game that considers the dynamic strategic behavior of two gangs engaged in a territorial conflict. The police force acts as the leader in the game. In the first model, each gang is concerned solely by the actions of the other, thus leading to an equilibrium wherein the greater one gang's criminal activity, the greater the rival gang's criminal activity. In the second model both gangs account primarily for police activities aimed at maintaining law and order, thus leading to an equilibrium wherein the gangs respond directly to the law enforcement activities of the police force. Exploratory analyses employing gang-related crime and police activities in Los Angeles provide empirical support for the main features of both models of the differential game, such as how gang rivalry fuels criminal activity and how the role of police is crucial in reducing gang-related crime.

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