In this episode of the Capitalisn’t podcast, Kate and Luigi take an economist’s look at the concept of defunding the police.

“Defund the police” has become one of the central demands coming from the protests that have arisen following George Floyd’s murder at the hands of white police officers. In this episode, Kate Waldock (Georgetown University) and Luigi Zingales (University of Chicago) take an economist’s look at the concept of defunding the police.

Kate and Luigi discuss the issue with three guests: Chicago Police Board President Ghian Foreman; Caroline M. Hoxby, the Scott and Donya Bommer Professor in Economics at Stanford University; and Bocar Ba, a Quattrone Center Research Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and an incoming Assistant Professor at UC Irvine Economics. 

If you liked the episode, here is a reading list of some of the papers and articles discussed during the episode. 

First, a story by the Chicago Tribune of Foreman’s attack by police officers during a demonstration he coincidentally encountered on Chicago’s South Side.

During the episode, Hoxby says that “nobody wants to do research on the police unions, because they’re afraid that they will be targeted by the police.” This 2019 paper by Dhammika Dharmapala, Richard H. McAdams, and John Rappaport of the University of Chicago Law School is one of the few papers to look into the connection between police unions and officer misconduct. 

This 2001 paper on “depolicing” and the Los Angeles Police Department finds that “officers appear to have responded to increased oversight by reducing crime-fighting activities in an attempt to avoid investigation.”

And this recent paper by Bocar Ba, Dean Knox, Jonathan Mummolo, and Roman Rivera examines racial and ethnic diversification in policing and finds that diversity has a substantial impact on police treatment of minority communities.

Also, read Luigi Zingales’s recent piece on how to reform American policing.