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Working Paper
Public Policies
Magdalena Domínguez, Daniel Montolio

2019/06: Bolstering community ties as a means of reducing crime

In this paper we study the effects of bolstering community ties on local crime rates. To do so, we take advantage of the quasi-random nature of the implementation of the deployment of a community health policy in the city of Barcelona. The health-care program called Salut als Barris (BSaB; literally, `health in the neighborhoods’) aims to improve health outcomes and reduce inequalities in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods of the city through community-based initiatives and empowerment of citizens. The economic and sociological literature suggests that such a policy may also affect other aspects of overall welfare, such as criminal activity. In order to test the hypothesis that BSaB reduces crime, we used monthly data at the neighborhood level and a staggered differences-in-differences approach. Overall we found that BSaB significantly reduces victimization of women. Furthermore, this decline is seen in types of crime we classify as `anger’ and `intimate’ crimes, with the reduction ranging from 9% to 18%. We argue that this result is due to the stronger community ties, and that it therefore provides evidence that non-traditional crime prevention policies can work.

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