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Peer Effects on Criminal Behavior. Evidence from the homeless


  • Lucia Corno

    () (University College London and Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM))


This paper investigates the influence of peers on criminal behavior, using original data I collected by interviewing homeless people in Milan. Information on friends' names was elicited, which allows to map each respondent’s network. Each individual was also asked to report his criminal status prior to becoming homeless. To estimate the causal effects of network size and of the share of criminal friends on (subsequent) criminal behavior, I rely on two instruments. The first is the share of rainy days since the individual has become homeless: rainfall fosters concentration of homeless individuals in sheltered places and increases the probability of meetings. The second instrument is the fraction of inmates released by Milan’s authorities during one’s period as homeless, which affects the supply of criminal potential friends. I find that the probability of arrest decreases by 16 percentage points with the network size, but it increases by 20 percentage points with the share of criminal friends in the group.

Suggested Citation

  • Lucia Corno, 2012. "Peer Effects on Criminal Behavior. Evidence from the homeless," Norface Discussion Paper Series 2012015, Norface Research Programme on Migration, Department of Economics, University College London.
  • Handle: RePEc:nor:wpaper:2012015

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. "Social cleansing" and network effects
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2012-04-24 19:28:05
    2. "Social cleansing" and network effects
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2012-04-24 19:28:05


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    Cited by:

    1. Lindquist, Matthew & Zenou, Yves, 2014. "Key Players in Co-Offending Networks," CEPR Discussion Papers 9889, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item


    Peer effects; crime; homeless;

    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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