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The Effect of Crime on Life Satisfaction

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  • Mark A. Cohen

Abstract

Crime often ranks at the top of public concern, and a majority of the public report they sometimes worry about crime. Yet we know little about crime's impact on day-to-day quality of life. This paper provides new evidence on crime's effect on life satisfaction using a combination of victimization and subjective survey data. I find that county-level crime rates and perceived neighborhood safety have little impact on overall life satisfaction. In contrast, the effect of a home burglary on life satisfaction is quite large-nearly as much as moving from excellent health to good health. In monetary terms, I estimate a compensating income equivalent of nearly $85,000 for a home burglary. Thus, while being burglarized has a large and significant effect on a victim's overall life satisfaction, neither county-level crime rates nor neighborhood safety appear to have very large effects on daily life satisfaction for the average American. (c) 2008 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark A. Cohen, 2008. "The Effect of Crime on Life Satisfaction," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(S2), pages 325-353, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:37:y:2008:i:s2:p:s325-s353
    DOI: 10.1086/588220
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