Entertainment as Crime Prevention: Evidence from Chicago Sports Games

38 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2014 Last revised: 5 Aug 2015

See all articles by Hannah Laqueur

Hannah Laqueur

University of California, Davis

Ryan Copus

Harvard Law School

Date Written: April 25, 2014


The concern that mass media may be responsible for aggressive and criminal behavior is widespread. Comparatively little consideration has been given to its potential diversionary function. This paper contributes to the emerging body of literature on entertainment as a determinant of crime by analyzing Chicago by-the-minute crime reports during major sporting events. Sports provide an exogenous infusion of TV diversion that we leverage to test the effect of entertainment on crime. Because the scheduling of a sporting event should be random with respect to crime within a given month, day of the week, and time, we use month-time-day-of-week fixed effects to estimate the effect of the sporting events on crime. We compare crime reports by the half hour when Chicago’s NFL, NBA, or MLB teams are playing to crime reports at the same time, day, and month when the teams are not playing. We conduct the same analysis for the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and MLB World Series. The Super Bowl generates the most dramatic declines: total crime reports decrease by approximately 25 percent (roughly 60 fewer crimes). The decline is partially offset by an increase in crime before the game, most notably in drug and prostitution reports, and an uptick in reports of violent crime immediately after the game. Crime during Chicago Bears Monday night football games is roughly 15 percent lower (30 fewer crimes) than during the same time on non-game nights. Our results show similar but smaller effects for NBA and MLB games. Except for the Super Bowl, we find little evidence for temporal crime displacement before or after the games. In general, we find substantial declines during games across crime types – property, violent, drug, and other – with the largest reductions for drug crime. We believe fewer potential offenders on the streets largely explain the declines in crime.

Keywords: Crime, Entertainment, Sports, Routine Activities, Displacement, Media

Suggested Citation

Laqueur, Hannah and Copus, Ryan, Entertainment as Crime Prevention: Evidence from Chicago Sports Games (April 25, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2429551 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2429551

Hannah Laqueur

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States
9173642301 (Phone)

Ryan Copus (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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