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The strength of weak ties in crime

  • Patacchini, Eleonora
  • Zenou, Yves

The aim of this paper is to investigate whether weak ties play an important role in explaining criminal activities. We first develop a model where individuals learn about crime opportunities by interacting with other peers. These interactions can take the form of either strong or weak ties. We find that increasing the percentage of weak ties induces more transitions from non-crime to crime and thus the crime rate in the economy increases. This is because, when the percentage of weak ties is high, delinquents and non-delinquents are in close contact with each other. We then test these predictions using the U.S. National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (AddHealth), which contains unique detailed informations on friendship relationships among teenagers. The theoretical predictions of our model are confirmed by the empirical analysis since we find that weak ties, as measured by friends of friends, have a positive impact on criminal activities.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 52 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
Pages: 209-236

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:52:y:2008:i:2:p:209-236
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

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  1. Matt Jackson, 2003. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000032, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Coralio Ballester & Antoni Calvo-Armengol & Yves Zenou, 2005. "Who's Who in Networks. Wanted: the Key Player," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 666156000000000586, www.najecon.org.
  3. Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Merlo, Antonio & Rupert, Peter, 1996. "On the political economy of income redistribution and crime," Bulletins 7497, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
  4. Calvó-Armengol, Antoni & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2005. "Peer Effects and Social Networks in Education and Crime," CEPR Discussion Papers 5244, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Calvó-Armengol, Antoni & Zenou, Yves, 2003. "Social Networks and Crime Decisions: The Role of Social Structure in Facilitating Delinquent Behavior," Working Paper Series 601, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  6. Anne C. Case & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects of Family and Neighborhood on Disadvantaged Youths," NBER Working Papers 3705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ballester, Coralio & Calvó-Armengol, Antoni & Zenou, Yves, 2004. "Who's Who in Crime Networks: Wanted - The Key Player," CEPR Discussion Papers 4421, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Patrick Bayer & Randi Pintoff & David E. Pozen, 2003. "Building Criminal Capital Behind Bars: Social Learning in Juvenile Corrections," Working Papers 864, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  9. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Thierry Verdier & Yves Zenou, 2004. "Strong and Weak Ties in Employment and Crime," Working Papers 180, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  10. Jens Ludwig & Greg J. Duncan & Paul Hirschfield, 2001. "Urban Poverty and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from a Randomized Housing-Mobility Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 655-679.
  11. Lance Lochner, 2004. "Education, Work, and Crime: A Human Capital Approach," NBER Working Papers 10478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Verdier, T. & Zenou, Y., 2001. "Racial beliefs, location and the causes of crime," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0101, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  13. Dan Silverman, 2004. "Street Crime And Street Culture," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 761-786, 08.
  14. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jens Ludwig & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "Neighborhood Effects on Crime for Female and Male Youth: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(1), pages 87-130.
  15. Kenneth Burdett & Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2003. "Crime, Inequality, and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1764-1777, December.
  16. Chien-Chieh Huang & Derek Laing & Ping Wang, 2004. "Crime And Poverty: A Search-Theoretic Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 909-938, 08.
  17. Lott, John R, Jr & Mustard, David B, 1997. "Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-68, January.
  18. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 5026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. M. Keith Chen & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Does Prison Harden Inmates? A Discontinuity-based Approach," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1450, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  20. Sah, Raaj K, 1991. "Social Osmosis and Patterns of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1272-95, December.
  21. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond the Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988.
  22. Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2005. "Crime and Conformism," CEPR Discussion Papers 5331, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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