Partners in Crime: Schools, Neighborhoods and the Formation of Criminal Networks

36 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2016

See all articles by Stephen B. Billings

Stephen B. Billings

University of Colorado - Boulder

David Deming

Harvard University; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Stephen L. Ross

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 2016

Abstract

Why do crime rates differ greatly across neighborhoods and schools? Comparing youth who were assigned to opposite sides of newly drawn school boundaries, we show that concentrating disadvantaged youth together in the same schools and neighborhoods increases total crime. We then show that these youth are more likely to be arrested for committing crimes together – to be “partners in crime”. Our results suggest that direct peer interaction is a key mechanism for social multipliers in criminal behavior. As a result, policies that increase residential and school segregation will – all else equal – increase crime through the formation of denser criminal networks.

Suggested Citation

Billings, Stephen B. and Deming, David and Ross, Stephen L., Partners in Crime: Schools, Neighborhoods and the Formation of Criminal Networks (February 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w21962. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2729062

Stephen B. Billings (Contact Author)

University of Colorado - Boulder ( email )

Leeds School of Business
Koelbel Building
Boulder, CO US 80309
United States

David Deming

Harvard University ( email )

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Stephen L. Ross

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics ( email )

365 Fairfield Way, U-1063
Storrs, CT 06269-1063
United States

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