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Recent work on Crime

Crime is a symptom and a cause of community breakdown, therefore of key interest to policy makers are factors that influence it, and policy levers which may be used to curb it. Olivier Marie gives an overview of the contribution of economists to our understanding of criminal behaviour and crime control in a Centre Piece article (2013) which summarises the findings of a recent book, Lessons from the Economics of Crime, coedited with Philip Cook, Stephen Machin and Giovanni Mastrobuoni. Some recent CEP projects are summarised below:
  • Education and crime

    Does increasing education reduce crime? Using various data sources from Britain, Stephen Machin, Olivier Marie and Suncica Vujic (2010) show that improving education can yield significant social benefits and can be a key policy tool in the drive to reduce crime.

    Further reading:
    The Crime Reducing Effect of Education

  • Policing

    How can we identify the causal impact of policing on crime? A number of papers have sought to do this using natural experiment settings. One paper by Mirko Draca, Steve Machin and Robert Witt (2008) (published in the American Economic Review in 2011) uses the redistribution in policing that resulted from the London bombings to estimate the effect of policing on crime (10 per cent more police leads to 3 per cent less crime), and another by Olivier Marie and Steve Machin (2005) evaluates the Street Crime Initiative introduces in 2002 also finding that increased police resources reduce crime.

    Further reading:
    Panic on the Streets of London

    Crime and Police Resources: the Street Crime Initiative

  • The effects of benefit sanctions

    Do benefit cuts and sanctions increase the likelihood of those affected to engage in crime? Work by Steve Machin and Olivier Marie (2004) looks at changes in unemployment benefits and the imposition of benefit sanctions as a means of studying the way that people on the margins of crime may react to economic incentives. The setting is the introduction of the Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) - a tougher benefit regime than its predecessors, in the UK in October 1996. They find that crime rose by more in areas more affected by the new regime. As such the benefit cuts and sanctions embodied in the JSA appear to have induced individuals previously on the margins to engage in crime.

    Further reading:
    Crime and Benefit Sanctions

  • Immigration and crime

    Does more immigration lead to increased crime? This paper by Laura Jaitman and Steve Machin (2013) presents new evidence on the relationship between immigration and crime from England and Wales in the 2000s. This period is of considerable interest as the composition of migration altered dramatically with the accession of Eastern European countries (the A8) to the EU in 2004. No evidence is found of an average causal impact of immigration on criminal behaviour. This result holds even when looking at London alone (where immigration changes were very dramatic).

    Further reading:
    Crime and Immigration: New Evidence From England and Wales

    There are similar findings in a paper by Brian Bell, Stephen Machin and Francesco Fasani (2010) who consider possible crime effects from two large waves of immigration that recently occurred in the UK. The first of these was the late 1990s/early 2000s wave of asylum seekers, and the second the large inflow of workers from EU accession countries that took place from 2004. They find that the first wave led to a small rise in property crime, whilst the second wave had no such impact. There was no observable effect on violent crime for either wave. Nor were immigrant arrest rates different to natives.

    Further reading:
    Crime and Immigration: Evidence from Large Immigrant Waves

    Work by Brian Bell and Steve Machin (2011) explores the link between immigrant segregation, enclaves and crime using both recorded crime and victim reported data in the UK. Controlling for a rich set of observables, they find that crime is substantially lower in those neighbourhoods with sizeable immigrant population shares.

    Further reading:
    Immigrant Enclaves and Crime

  • Unemployment and domestic violence

    Does domestic violence increase during economic downturns? Contrary to popular belief, the incidence of domestic violence in Britain does not seem to have risen during the recession. But according to research by Dan Anderberg, Helmut Rainer, Jonathan Wadsworth and Tanya Wilson (2013), men and women have experienced different risks of unemployment - and these have had contrasting effects on the level of physical abuse.

    Further reading:
    Unemployment and domestic violence

    Unemployment and Domestic Violence: Theory and Evidence