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SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper

Down and Out in Italian Towns: Measuring the Impact of Economic Downturns on Crime


The paper investigates the effect of local economic conditions on crime. The study focuses on Italy’s local labor markets and analyzes the short-term response of crime to the severe slump of 2007-2009. It shows that the downturn led to a significant increase in economic-related offenses that do not require particular criminal skills or tools (namely, thefts); on the other hand, for offenses for which specific skills and criminal experience are essential (say, robberies) the impact of the crisis was negative. The results also suggest that: i) labor market institutions (i.e. wage supplementary schemes and pro-worker contractual arrangements) had a role in slowing down the effect of the economy on crime; ii) the link between the downturn and crime was weaker in areas where the presence of organized crime is relatively more intensive.


Carlo Menon and Guido de Blasio

21 June 2013     Paper Number SECDP0137

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This SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper is published under the centre's Urban programme.