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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
Carlo Menon and Guido de Blasio
June 2013
Paper No' SECDP0137:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: K14; K42; E32

Tags: crime; economic crises; italy

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.