Does Movie Violence Increase Violent Crime?

59 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2008 Last revised: 27 Jun 2010

See all articles by Gordon B. Dahl

Gordon B. Dahl

UC San Diego - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Rochester - Department of Economics

Stefano DellaVigna

University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 2008

Abstract

Laboratory experiments in psychology find that media violence increases aggression in the short run. We analyze whether media violence affects violent crime in the field. We exploit variation in the violence of blockbuster movies from 1995 to 2004, and study the effect on same-day assaults. We find that violent crime decreases on days with larger theater audiences for violent movies. The effect is partly due to voluntary incapacitation: between 6PM and 12AM, a one million increase in the audience for violent movies reduces violent crime by 1.1 to 1.3 percent. After exposure to the movie, between 12AM and 6AM, violent crime is reduced by an even larger percent. This finding is explained by the self-selection of violent individuals into violent movie attendance, leading to a substitution away from more volatile activities. In particular, movie attendance appears to reduce alcohol consumption. Like the laboratory experiments, we find indirect evidence that movie violence increases violent crime; however, this effect is dominated by the reduction in crime induced by a substitution away from more dangerous activities. Overall, our estimates suggest that in the short-run violent movies deter almost 1,000 assaults on an average weekend. While our design does not allow us to estimate long-run effects, we find no evidence of medium-run effects up to three weeks after initial exposure.

Suggested Citation

Dahl, Gordon B. and DellaVigna, Stefano, Does Movie Violence Increase Violent Crime? (January 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w13718, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1082697

Gordon B. Dahl (Contact Author)

UC San Diego - Department of Economics ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

University of Rochester - Department of Economics ( email )

Harkness Hall
Rochester, NY 14627
United States

Stefano DellaVigna

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

Economics Department
549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-643-0715 (Phone)
510-642-6615 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://emlab.berkeley.edu/users/sdellavi/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
124
Abstract Views
2,678
rank
260,086
PlumX Metrics