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Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack

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  • Rafael Di Tella
  • Ernesto Schargrodsky

Abstract

An important challenge in the crime literature is to isolate causal effects of police on crime. Following a terrorist attack on the main Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in July 1994, all Jewish institutions received police protection. Thus, this hideous event induced a geographical allocation of police forces that can be presumed exogenous in a crime regression. Using data on the location of car thefts before and after the attack, we find a large deterrent effect of observable police on crime. The effect is local, with no appreciable impact outside the narrow area in which the police are deployed.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:1:p:115-133
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282804322970733
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