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Is Crime Contagious?

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  • Jeffrey R. Kling
  • Jens Ludwig

Abstract

Understanding whether criminal behavior is %u201Ccontagious%u201D is important for law enforcement and for policies that affect how people are sorted across social settings. We test the hypothesis that criminal behavior is contagious by using data from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) randomized housing-mobility experiment to examine the extent to which lower local-area crime rates decrease arrest rates among individuals. Our analysis exploits the fact that the effect of treatment group assignment yields different types of neighborhood changes across the five MTO demonstration sites. We use treatment-site interactions to instrument for measures of neighborhood crime rates, poverty and racial segregation in our analysis of individual arrest outcomes. We are unable to detect evidence in support of the contagion hypothesis. Neighborhood racial segregation appears to be the most important explanation for across-neighborhood variation in arrests for violent crimes in our sample, perhaps because drug market activity is more common in high-minority neighborhoods.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. in its series Working Papers with number 889.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:dsp010p096690c

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Related research

Keywords: endogenous effects; social multiplier; arrests; social experiment;

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References

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  1. Sah, R.K., 1990. "Social Osmosis And Patterns Of Crime: A Dynamic Economic Analysis," Papers 609, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
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  9. Jens Ludwig & Jeffrey R. Kling, 2006. "Is Crime Contagious?," NBER Working Papers 12409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effects of Police on Crime: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1244-1250, September.
  14. Angrist, Joshua & Lavy, Victor & Schlosser, Analia, 2006. "New Evidence on the Causal Link between the Quantity and Quality of Children," CEPR Discussion Papers 5668, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  22. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jens Ludwig & Lawrence F. Katz, 2004. "Neighborhood Effects on Crime for Female and Male Youth: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," NBER Working Papers 10777, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Children's Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(2), pages 669-700, May.
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