Do Place-Based Crime Reduction Policies Work?: Evidence from the West Philadelphia Promise Zone

77 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2021 Last revised: 25 Jul 2022

See all articles by Alexander Marsella

Alexander Marsella

West Virginia University - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 4, 2021

Abstract

This paper studies the effect of the West Philadelphia Promise Zone Initiative on
violent crime rates in a high-crime area of West Philadelphia, where a series of public safety
and quality of life improvement grants were dispersed from 2014 to 2019. Results using a
difference-in-differences analysis with two-way fixed effects along with cluster-robust and bootstrapped standard errors provides the first causal evidence of a modest reduction in violent crime, primarily simple assaults, attributable to this program. By the end of 2019, the Promise Zone descends to around the average level of violent crime experienced across the rest of Philadelphia, attributable mainly to a reduction in simple assaults. The synthetic difference-in-differences estimator corroborates this result, with some important caveats. While it can not necessarily be ruled out, I do not find strong causal evidence of a reduction in shootings attributable to the Promise Zone. That being said, a back-of-the-envelope cost-benefit analysis suggests that the Promise Zone may have recouped the majority of its investment in public safety through a reduced social cost of crime victimization.

Keywords: Promise zone, Crime, Place based policy, Violence

JEL Classification: K42, J18, R38, H53, R11

Suggested Citation

Marsella, Alexander, Do Place-Based Crime Reduction Policies Work?: Evidence from the West Philadelphia Promise Zone (November 4, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3956747 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3956747

Alexander Marsella (Contact Author)

West Virginia University - Department of Economics ( email )

Morgantown, WV 26506
United States

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