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

82 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2017

See all articles by Christopher Blattman

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; Innovations for Poverty Action

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 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.

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 (October 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23941. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3053743

Christopher Blattman (Contact Author)

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

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Donald P. Green

Columbia University ( email )

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Daniel Ortega

CAF Development Bank of Latin America ( email )

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P.O. Box Carmelitas 5086 Torre CAF, Altamira
Caracas
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Santiago Tobon

University of Chicago ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Innovations for Poverty Action ( email )

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

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