Place Based Interventions at Scale: The Direct and Spillover Effects of Policing and City Services on Crime

85 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2017 Last revised: 5 Sep 2018

Christopher Blattman

University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Donald P. Green

Columbia University

Daniel Ortega

CAF Development Bank of Latin America

Santiago Tobon

University of Chicago; Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics; Innovations for Poverty Action

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 1, 2017

Abstract

Cities target police patrols and public services to control crime. What are the direct and spillover effects of such targeted state services? In 2016 the city of Bogotá, Colombia, experimented on an unprecedented scale. They randomly assigned 1,919 streets to either 8 months of doubled police patrols, greater municipal services, both, or neither. We study how crime responds to intensifying normal state presence in moderate- to high-crime streets, and what this implies about criminal behavior. Scale also brings challenges. Spatial spillovers in dense networks introduce bias and complicate variance estimation through “fuzzy clustering.” But a design-based approach and randomization inference produce valid hypothesis tests in such settings. We find that increasing state presence has modest direct impacts, even when focusing on the highest-crime “hot spots.” More intense state presence deters more crime. But in most cases, however, crime appears to displace to neighboring streets. Property crimes seem most easily displaced, while violent crimes may not be. One interpretation is that crimes with a more sustained motive are more likely to displace than crimes of passion, which state presence may more permanently deter.

Keywords: Crime, Violence, Police, Public Services, State Building, Spillovers, Field Experiment

JEL Classification: K42, O17, E26, J48, C93

Suggested Citation

Blattman, Christopher and Green, Donald P. and Ortega, Daniel and Tobon, Santiago, Place Based Interventions at Scale: The Direct and Spillover Effects of Policing and City Services on Crime (September 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3050823 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3050823

Christopher Blattman (Contact Author)

University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Donald P. Green

Columbia University ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Daniel Ortega

CAF Development Bank of Latin America ( email )

Ave. Luis Roche
P.O. Box Carmelitas 5086 Torre CAF, Altamira
Caracas
United States

Santiago Tobon

University of Chicago ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1a No. 18A-10
Santafe de Bogota, AA4976
Colombia

Innovations for Poverty Action ( email )

1731 Connecticut Ave, 4th floor
New Haven, CT 20009
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
862
rank
24,284
Abstract Views
4,792
PlumX