Empirical Economics

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

The social costs of gun ownership revisited

  • Bernd HayoEmail author
  • Florian Neumeier
  • Christian Westphal


Cook and Ludwig (J Public Econ 90:379–391, 2006) use data on homicide rates and gun prevalence proxies from US counties over the period 1980–1999 and, in their panel data analysis, find a positive and statistically significant association between both variables. We reexamine their analysis and show that their findings are driven by spurious correlations arising from the use of a common denominator (ratio fallacy) to deflate both dependent and independent variables. When we attempt to replicate their results accounting for these issues, we no longer find any evidence that gun ownership is linked to homicides.


Gun ownership Social costs Ratio fallacy Spurious correlation Log ratio 

JEL Classification

H21 I18 K42 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernd Hayo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Florian Neumeier
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christian Westphal
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Business and EconomicsUniversity of MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.Ifo Institute MunichMunichGermany

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