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Rail Transit and Neighborhood Crime: The Case of Atlanta, Georgia


  • Keith R. Ihlanfeldt

    () (DeVoe Moore Center and Department of Economics)


The construction of commuter rail stations is the centerpiece of many metropolitan areas' overall strategies for dealing with worsening air pollution, automobile congestion, and urban sprawl. Neighborhood groups have frequently opposed new stations on the grounds that stations increase crime. If fears of station-induced neighborhood crime are justified, building new stations may make the problems they are supposed to address even worse, because crime is a cause of employment and population decentralization. This paper first demonstrates theoretically that transit's impact on neighborhood crime can be either positive or negative. Some rare evidence is then provided on the link between transit and crime. Using a unique panel of neighborhood crime data for Atlanta, the results from estimating fixed effects and random effects models show that transit's impact on crime depends on certain characteristics of the neighborhood. The mix of these characteristics found within central city neighborhoods has resulted in transit increasing crime there, whereas in the suburbs crime has been reduced by transit.

Suggested Citation

  • Keith R. Ihlanfeldt, 2003. "Rail Transit and Neighborhood Crime: The Case of Atlanta, Georgia," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(2), pages 273-294, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:70:2:y:2003:p:273-294

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    Cited by:

    1. Gregory DeAngelo & Gary Charness, 2012. "Deterrence, expected cost, uncertainty and voting: Experimental evidence," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 73-100, February.
    2. Claudia N. Berg & Uwe Deichmann & Yishen Liu & Harris Selod, 2017. "Transport Policies and Development," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(4), pages 465-480, April.
    3. Phillips, David C. & Sandler, Danielle, 2015. "Does public transit spread crime? Evidence from temporary rail station closures," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 13-26.
    4. Billings, Stephen B., 2011. "Estimating the value of a new transit option," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 525-536.

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