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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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  8. Verdier, Thierry & Zenou, Yves, 2003. "Racial Beliefs, Location and the Causes of Crime," Working Paper Series 602, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
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  16. Ballester, Coralio & Calvó-Armengol, Antoni & Zenou, Yves, 2004. "Who's Who in Crime Network. Wanted the Key Player," Working Paper Series 617, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  17. Lance Lochner, 2004. "Education, Work, And Crime: A Human Capital Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 811-843, 08.
  18. 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.
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