Thieves, Thugs and Neighborhood Poverty

In: Social Issues

Submitted By levry1987
Words 18032
Pages 73
Thieves, Thugs, and Neighborhood Poverty
David Bjerk Robert Day School of Economics and Finance Claremont McKenna College 500 East Ninth Street, Claremont CA 91711 Ph: 909-607-4471 April 25, 2010

Abstract This paper develops a model of crime analyzing how such behavior is associated with individual and neighborhood poverty. The model shows that even under relatively minimal assumptions, a connection between individual poverty and both property and violent crimes will arise, and moreover, "neighborhood" e¤ects can develop, but will di¤er substantially in nature across crime types. A key implication is that greater economic segregation in a city should have no e¤ect or a negative e¤ect on property crime, but a positive e¤ect on violent crime. Using IV methods, I show this implication to be consistent with the empirical evidence. Keywords: Crime; Segregation; Neighborhood E¤ects; Instrumental Variables; Poverty.


“I don’ care if I got money, or work Monday through Friday. I just go shoot a t motherf*@#er on the weekends. If that’ what need to be done to keep my hood s and my young ones around here safe, then that’ what to get done” (quoted by s Landesman, 2007).



High rates of crime and violence in poor neighborhoods have been described by numerous scholars and journalists (Wilson, 1987; Krivo and Peterson, 1996; Kotlowitz, 1991; Patterson, 1991; Messner and Tardi¤, 1986, to name just a few). However, the quote above from a man residing in a high-poverty housing project in south Los Angeles emphasizes that not only is crime a large part of life in high-poverty neighborhoods, but also that violent crimes may often serve a quite di¤erent purpose than basic property crime. Namely, while the motivation for basic property crimes is generally purely monetary, becoming involved in violent crime may have a defensive…...

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