Risky Business

Do businesses (e.g. bars or supermarkets) and facilities (e.g. libraries) generate or prevent crime? Urban planners and policy-makers often view businesses and facilities as a panacea to social problems: they create jobs and invest in their buildings and immediate surroundings. In contrast, and supported by most empirical research findings, environmental criminologists argue that crime is more likely to occur near businesses. However, such empirical research is based on cross-sectional data, which allows investigating correlation between businsses and crime. However, correlation does not imply causation. So, should urban planners combine residential and commercial buildings within neighborhoods? This project investigates the causal effect of businesses and facilities on crime using unique longitudinal data and recently developed econometric methods for spatio-temporal analysis.