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The Effect of Crime on Life Satisfaction

Mark A. Cohen

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - Law School; Resources for the Future

Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 08-08

Crime often ranks at the top of public concern, and a majority of the public report they sometimes worry about crime. Yet, we know little about crime's impact on day-to-day quality of life. This paper provides new evidence on crime's effect on life satisfaction using a combination of victimization and subjective survey data. We find county-level crime rates and perceived neighborhood safety have little impact on overall life satisfaction. In contrast, the effect of a home burglary on life satisfaction is quite large - nearly as much as moving from "excellent" to "good" health. In monetary terms, we estimate a compensating income equivalent of nearly $85,000 for a home burglary. Thus, while being burglarized has a large and significant effect on a victim's overall life satisfaction, neither county-level crime rates nor neighborhood safety appear to have very large impacts on daily life satisfaction to the average American.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: happiness, life satisfaction, subjective well-being, quality of life, crime, fear

JEL Classification: K42, I31, D61, C42

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Date posted: February 9, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Mark A., The Effect of Crime on Life Satisfaction. Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 08-08. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1091542 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1091542

Contact Information

Mark A. Cohen (Contact Author)
Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management ( email )
401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States
615-322-0533 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.mba.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/mcohen.cfm
Vanderbilt University - Law School
131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
Resources for the Future ( email )
1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States
202-328-5000 (Phone)
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References:  29
Citations:  2

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