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Warrantless Arrest Laws for Domestic Violence: How Are Youth Affected?

  • Kabir Dasgupta EMAIL logo and Gail Pacheco


This study empirically examines the impact of warrantless arrest laws (designed to deter domestic violence) on multiple youth outcomes. Utilizing variation in the timing of implementation of the laws across states, and employing a difference in differences framework, we examine both the direct and indirect impacts on youth in the United States. There appears to be no significant direct link between warrantless arrest laws and domestic violence-related homicides. However, on the indirect front, we do find strong evidence that implementation of the arrest laws results in a drop in the probability of youth experiencing suicidal ideation. This analysis also accounts for important heterogeneities in laws across states, and our findings are robust to multiple sensitivity checks, aimed at addressing key threats to identification.

JEL Classification: I12; K36


This paper is an updated version of an earlier empirical study related to youth outcomes of domestic violence-related warrantless arrest laws. We are grateful to Catherine Maclean, Michael Leeds, Douglas Webber, Andrew Sfekas, and other colleagues at Temple University, Economics Department for their valuable guidance and suggestions. We would also like to thank participants of APPAM, 2015, Southern Economic Association, 2015, ASHEcon, 2016 and NZAE, 2017 conferences for providing helpful comments. We are solely responsible for all errors committed in this study.


Table 11:

Summary information of YRBS variables (sub-components) used to construct individual-level dependent variables.

VariableSurvey QuestionsBinary codingUsed to constructYouthGirlsBoysp-value
Mean (SD)Mean (SD)Mean (SD)f −μm)
Serious fightDuring the past 12 months, how many times were you in a physical fight in whichyou were injured and had to be treated by a doctor or nurse?0: Never-0.039 (0.193)0.025 (0.157)0.052 (0.223)0.000
1: At least once
FightDuring the past 12 months, how many times were you in a physical fight?0: NeverViolence index0.315 (0.464)0.240 (0.427)0.394 (0.489)0.000
1: At least once
Carry weaponDuring the past 30 days, on how many days did you carry a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club?0: NeverViolence index0.188 (0.390)0.080 (0.272)0.302 (0.459)0.000
1: At least once
Suicide considerationDuring the past 12 months, did you ever seriously consider attempting suicide?0: NoSuicidal tendency index0.175 (0.379)0.217 (0.412)0.131 (0.337)0.000
1: Yes
Suicide planDuring the past 12 months, did you make a plan about how you would attempt suicide?0: NoSuicidal tendency index0.140 (0.347)0.168 (0.374)0.111 (0.314)0.000
1: Yes
Suicide attemptDuring the past 12 months, how many times did you actually attempt suicide?0: NeverSuicidal tendency index0.088 (0.283)0.107 (0.310)0.067 (0.249)0.000
1: At least once
Smoking daysDuring the past 30 days, on how many days did you smoke cigarettes?0: NeverSubstance use index 10.214 (0.410)0.203 (0.402)0.225 (0.418)0.000
1: At least once
Cigarettes per dayDuring the past 30 days, on the days you smoked, how many cigarettes did you smoke per day?0: NeverSubstance useindex 20.225 (0.417)0.214 (0.410)0.236 (0.425)0.000
1: At least one/day
DrinkingDuring the past 30 days, on how many days did you have at least one drink of alcohol?0: NeverSubstance use index 10.409 (0.492)0.402 (0.490)0.416 (0.493)0.000
1: At least once
Binge-drinkingDuring the past 30 days, on how many days did you have 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row, that is, within a couple of hours?0: NeverSubstance use index 20.246 (0.431)0.222 (0.416)0.271 (0.445)0.000
1: At least once
Chew tobaccoDuring the past 30 days, on how many days did you use chewing tobacco, snuff, or dip, such as Redman, Levi Garrett, Beechnut, Skoal, Skoal Bandits, or Copenhagen?0: NeverSubstance use index 1/20.071 (0.257)0.024 (0.153)0.120 (0.325)0.000
1: At least once
MarijuanaDuring the past 30 days, how many times did you use marijuana?0: NeverSubstance use index 1/20.201 (0.401)0.172 (0.380)0.229 (0.420)0.000
1: At least once
CocaineDuring the past 30 days, how many times did you use any form of cocaine, including powder, crack, or freebase?0: NeverSubstance use index 1/20.037 (0.189)0.028 (0.165)0.047 (0.211)0.000
1: At least once
  1. Note: The descriptive information of individual measures used to construct the youth indicators (see Table 3) in the above table are estimated based on respective regression samples used for each broad indicators.

Table 12:

YRBS regression sample size classified by state-year.


District of Columbia--518-------324-
New Hampshire25326782088---132112651633148414021617
New Jersey455--74224023613081815695223317672073
New Mexico259664-282-156104-224617--
New York3754932754087404432310,19510,15414,29816,06113,78710,946
North Carolina-273118883415133215254745074086567933942229
North Dakota--1513-18211596166217201761182819071971
Rhode Island---1522751381180123422204320339362437
South Carolina60834664550060515385-88915911235110414831598
South Dakota165013421192160316691609211615831606216215391315
West Virginia-3114207318121311264174615961633213524181786
  1. Note: Highlighted (in bold) states represent sources of variations in YRBS regression analyses related to results reported in Table 8. The above information is based on regression sample used for analysis on substance use indicators. For specific passage years, see Table 1.


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Published Online: 2018-1-23

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