Stephen Billings, David Deming, Stephen L. Ross

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.

JEL Codes
I20: Education and Research Institutions: General
J10: Demographic Economics: General
K40: Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior: General
R20: Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics: Household Analysis: General
youth crime
criminal partnerships
neighborhood effects
social interactions