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Does Regulation of Built‐in Security Reduce Crime? Evidence from a Natural Experiment

  • Ben Vollaard
  • Jan C. van Ours

As of 1999, all new-built homes in the Netherlands have to have burglary-proof windows and doors. We provide evidence that this large-scale government intervention in the use of self-protective measures lowers crime and improves social welfare. We find the regulatory change to have reduced burglary in new-built homes from 1.1 to 0.8 percent annually, a reduction of 26 percent. The findings suggest that burglars avoid old, less-protected homes that are located in the direct vicinity of the new, better-protected homes. The presence of a negative externality on older homes is ambiguous. We find no evidence for displacement to other property crimes including theft from cars and bicycle theft. Even though the regulation of built-in security does not target preventative measures at homes that are most at risk, the social benefits of the regulation are likely to exceed the social costs.

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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 121 (2011)
Issue (Month): 552 (05)
Pages: 485-504

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:121:y:2011:i:552:p:485-504
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  1. Ian Ayres & Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Measuring Positive Externalities From Unobservable Victim Precaution: An Empirical Analysis Of Lojack," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 43-77, February.
  2. Peterson, Steven & Hoffer, George & Millner, Edward, 1995. "Are Drivers of Air-Bag-Equipped Cars More Aggressive? A Test of the Offsetting Behavior Hypothesis," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 251-64, October.
  3. Vollaard, Ben & Koning, Pierre, 2009. "The effect of police on crime, disorder and victim precaution. Evidence from a Dutch victimization survey," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 336-348, December.
  4. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Working Papers 13039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Marco Gonzalez-Navarro, 2013. "Deterrence and Geographical Externalities in Auto Theft," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 92-110, October.
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