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Crime and Social Interactions

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  • Edward E. Glaeser
  • Bruce Sacerdote
  • Jose A. Scheinkman

Abstract

The high degree of variance of crime rates across space (and across time) is one of the oldest puzzles in the social sciences (see Quetelet (1835)). Our empirical work strongly suggests that this variance is not the result of observed or unobserved geographic attributes. This paper presents a model where social interactions create enough covariance across individuals to explain the high cross- city variance of crime rates. This model provides a natural index of social interactions which can compare the degree of social interaction across crimes, across geographic 1units and across time. Our index gives similar results for different data samples and suggests that the amount of social interactions are highest in petty crimes (such as larceny and auto theft), moderate in more serious crimes (assault, burglary and robbery) and almost negligible in murder and rape. The index of social interactions is also applied to non-criminal choices and we find that there is substantial interaction in schooling choice.
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Suggested Citation

  • Edward E. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1738, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1738
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    4. Roland Benabou, 1994. "Education, Income Distribution and Growth: The Local Connection," NBER Working Papers 4798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    6. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1993. "Why Is Rent-Seeking So Costly to Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 409-414, May.
    7. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1975. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Question of Life and Death," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 397-417, June.
    8. Scheinkman, Jose A & Woodford, Michael, 1994. "Self-Organized Criticality and Economic Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 417-421, May.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • D00 - Microeconomics - - General - - - General

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