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Does Social Capital Reduce Crime?

  • Paolo Buonanno

    (University of Bergamo)

  • Daniel Montolio

    (University of Barcelona)

  • Paolo Vanin


    (University of Padova)

We investigate the effects of civic norms and associational networks on crime rates. Through their impact on trust and economic development, civic norms may raise the expected returns to crime, but they may also increase its opportunity cost and the feelings of guilt and shame attached to it. Associational networks may increase returns to non-criminal activities and raise detection probabilities, but they may also provide communication channels for criminals. The empirical assessment of these effects poses serious problems of endogeneity, omitted variables and measurement error. Italy's great variance in social and economic characteristics, its homogeneity in policies and institutions, and the availability of historical data on social capital in its regions allow us to minimise the first two problems. To tackle the third one, we exploit high and stable report rates for some forms of property crime. Once we address these problems, we find that both civic norms and associational networks have a negative and significant impact on property crimes across Italian provinces.

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Paper provided by Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno" in its series "Marco Fanno" Working Papers with number 0029.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pad:wpaper:0029
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