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Journal article

Does homeownership reduce crime? A radical housing reform from the UK

"Right to Buy" (RTB), a large-scale natural experiment whereby incumbent tenants in public housing could buy properties at heavily-subsidised prices, increased the UK homeownership rate by over 10 percentage points between its 1980 introduction and the 1990s. This paper studies the impact of this reform on crime by leveraging exogenous variation in eligibility for the policy. Results show that RTB generated significant property crime reductions. Behavioural changes of incumbent tenants and renovation of public properties were the main drivers of this crime reduction. This is evidence of a novel means by which subsidised homeownership and housing policy can reduce criminality.

Richard Disney, John Gathergood, Stephen Machin and Matteo Sandi

1 October 2023

The Economic Journal 133(655) , pp.2640-2675, 2023

DOI: 10.1093/ej/uead040

This Journal article is published under the centre's Community Wellbeing programme.