The Effect of Crime on Life Satisfaction

35 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2008

See all articles by Mark A. Cohen

Mark A. Cohen

Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics; Vanderbilt University - Law School; Resources for the Future


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.

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

JEL Classification: K42, I31, D61, C42

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Mark A., The Effect of Crime on Life Satisfaction. Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 08-08, Available at SSRN: or

Mark A. Cohen (Contact Author)

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