Danger Zone: The Causal Effects of High-Density and Mixed-Use Development on Neighborhood Crime
45 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2014 Last revised: 14 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 13, 2014
Since the seminal work of Jane Jacobs, it has become conventional wisdom among scholars and professional planners that high residential density and mixed commercial and residential land use reduce street crime. This notion has been influential in guiding planning decisions, but empirical evidence is limited. This paper examines the impact of mixed land use and residential density on crime using a unique high-resolution dataset from Chicago over the period 2008-2013. I employ a novel instrumental variable strategy based on the city's 1923 zoning code. I find that commercial uses, especially liquor stores and late-hour bars, lead to more street crime in their immediate vicinity, with relatively weak spillover effects. Higher residential density leads to lower per capita crime rates and ameliorates the criminogenic externalities of commercial activity. I discuss the implications for zoning policy and policing strategy.
Keywords: Crime, land use, zoning, instrumental variables, matching
JEL Classification: K42, R14, R52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation