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Terror and the Costs of Crime

  • Gould, Eric D
  • Stecklov, Guy

This paper argues that terrorism, beyond its immediate impact on innocent victims, also raises the costs of crime, and therefore, imposes a negative externality on potential criminals. Terrorism raises the costs of crime through two channels: (i) by increasing the presence and activity of the police force, and (ii) causing more people to stay at home rather than going out for leisure activities. Our analysis exploits a panel of 120 fatal terror attacks and all reported crimes for 17 districts throughout Israel between 2000 and 2005. After controlling for the fixed-effect of each district and for district-specific time trends, we show that terror attacks reduce property crimes such as burglary, auto-theft, and thefts-from-cars. Terror also reduces assaults and aggravated assaults which occur in private homes, but increases incidents of trespassing and "disrupting the police." Taken as a whole, the results are consistent with a stronger deterrence effect produced by an increased police presence after a terror attack. A higher level of policing is likely to catch more people trespassing, and at the same time, reduce the number of property crimes. The decline in crimes committed in private houses is likely an indication that the tendency for individuals to stay home after a terror attack further increases the costs of crime.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7181.

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Date of creation: Feb 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7181
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  1. H. Naci Mocan & Hope Corman, 2000. "A Time-Series Analysis of Crime, Deterrence, and Drug Abuse in New York City," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 584-604, June.
  2. Mirko Draca & Steve Machin & Robert Witt, 2008. "Panic on the streets of London: police, crime and the July 2005 terror attacks," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19632, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Eckstein, Zvi & Tsiddon, Daniel, 2004. "Macroeconomic Consequences of Terror: Theory and the Case of Israel," CEPR Discussion Papers 4427, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 1996. "Why is There More Crime in Cities?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1746, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Gary S. Becker & Yona Rubinstein, 2011. "Fear and the Response to Terrorism: An Economic Analysis," CEP Discussion Papers dp1079, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Jonathan Klick & Alexander Tabarrok, . "Using Terror Alert Levels to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Law & Economics Association Annual Meetings 1042, American Law & Economics Association.
  7. Alberto Abadie & Javier Gardeazabal, 2003. "The Economic Costs of Conflict: A Case Study of the Basque Country," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 113-132, March.
  8. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Policeon Crime," NBER Working Papers 4991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 1999. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," CEPR Discussion Papers 2129, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Evans, William N. & Owens, Emily G., 2007. "COPS and crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 181-201, February.
  11. Liu, Liqun & Rettenmaier, Andrew J., 2007. "Effects of mortality risk on risk-taking behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 49-55, January.
  12. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
  13. Eldor, Rafi & Melnick, Rafi, 2004. "Financial markets and terrorism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 367-386, June.
  14. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2004. "Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 115-133, March.
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