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Crime Distribution and Victim Behavior during a Crime Wave

In: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America

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Author Info

  • Rafael Di Tella
  • Sebastian Galiani
  • Ernesto Schargrodsky

Abstract

The study of how crime affects different income groups faces several difficulties. The first is that crime-avoiding activities vary across income groups. Thus, a lower victimization rate in one group may not reflect a lower burden of crime, but rather a higher investment in avoiding crime. A second difficulty is that, typically, only a small fraction of the population is victimized so that empirical tests often lack the statistical power to detect differences across groups. We take advantage of a dramatic increase in crime rates in Argentina during the late 1990s to document several interesting patterns. First, the increase in victimization experienced by the poor is larger than the increase endured by the rich. The difference appears large: low-income people have experienced increases in victimization rates that are almost 50 percent higher than those suffered by high-income people. Second, for home robberies, where the rich can protect themselves (by hiring private security, for example), we find significantly larger increases in victimization rates amongst the poor. In contrast, for robberies on the street, where the rich can only mimic the poor, we find similar increases in victimization for both income groups. Third, we document direct evidence on pecuniary and non-pecuniary protection activities by both the rich and poor, ranging from the avoidance of dark places to the hiring of private security. Fourth, we show the correlations between changes in protection and mimicking and changes in crime victimization. Fifth, we offer one possible way of using these estimates to explain the incidence of crime across income groups.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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This chapter was published in:

  • Rafael Di Tella & Sebastian Edwards & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2010. "The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dite09-1.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11839.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11839

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    References

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    1. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
    2. Alejandro Gaviria & Carmen Pagés-Serra, 1999. "Patterns of Crime Victimization in Latin America," Research Department Publications 4186, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    3. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 1999. "Why Is There More Crime in Cities?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S225-S258, December.
    4. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2004. "Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 115-133, March.
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    19. Galiani, Sebastian & Gertler, Paul & Schargrodsky, Ernesto, 2008. "School decentralization: Helping the good get better, but leaving the poor behind," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2106-2120, October.
    20. Julie Berry Cullen & Steven D. Levitt, 1996. "Crime, Urban Flight, and the Consequences for Cities," NBER Working Papers 5737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Florian Baumann & Tim Friehe, 2012. "Private Protection against Crime when Property Value is Private Information," CESifo Working Paper Series 3888, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Diego Battiston & Francisco Franchetti, 2008. "Inequality in Health Coverage, Empirical Analysis with Microdata for Argentina 2006," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0063, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    3. Ricardo Bebczuk & Francisco Haimovich, 2007. "MDGs and Microcredit: An Empirical Evaluation for Latin American Countries," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0048, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    4. Mariana Marchionni & Germán Bet & Ana Pacheco, 2007. "Empleo, Educación y Entorno Social de los Jóvenes: Una Nueva Fuente de Información," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0061, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    5. Zimmerman, Paul R., 2014. "The deterrence of crime through private security efforts: Theory and evidence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 66-75.
    6. Ricardo N. Bebczuk, 2008. "Dolarización y Pobreza en Ecuador," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0066, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    7. Walter Sosa Escudero & Anil K. Bera, 2008. "Tests for Unbalanced Error Component Models Under Local Misspecication," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0065, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    8. Daniel Mejía & María José Uribe, 2009. "Is Violence Against Union Members in Colombia Systematic and Targeted?," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 006147, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    9. Leopoldo Tornarolli & Adriana Conconi, 2007. "Informalidad y Movilidad Laboral: Un Análisis Empírico para Argentina," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0059, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    10. Paula Giovagnoli, 2007. "Failures in school progression," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0050, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    11. Sebastian Galiani & Federico Weinschelbaum, 2007. "Modeling Informality Formally: Households and Firms," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0047, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    12. Ricardo Bebczuk, 2009. "SME Access to Credit in Guatemala and Nicaragua: Challenging Conventional Wisdom with New Evidence," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0080, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    13. Zimmerman, Paul R., 2010. "Deterrence from self-protection measures in the ‘market model’ of crime: dynamic panel data estimates from employment in private security occupations," MPRA Paper 26187, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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