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CEP discussion paper
Commuting for crime
Tom Kirchmaier, Monica Langella and Alan Manning
February 2021
Paper No' CEPDP1747.PDF:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: K42

Tags: crime; commuting

People care about crime, with the spatial distribution of both actual and perceived crime affecting the amenities from living in different areas and residential decisions. The literature finds that crime tends to happen close to the offender’s residence but does not clearly establish whether this is because the location of likely offenders and crime opportunities are close to each other or whether there is a high commuting cost for criminals. We use a rich administrative dataset from one of the biggest UK police forces to disentangle these two hypotheses, providing an estimate of the cost of distance and how local socio-economic characteristics affect both crimes that are committed and the offenders’ location. We find that the cost of distance is very high and has a great deterrence effect. We also propose a procedure for controlling for the selection bias induced by the fact that offenders’ location is only known when they are caught.