• Unlocking Amenities: Complementarities in Public Good Consumption [pdf] [NBER WP] (Accepted at Journal of Public Economics) (Joint with David Albouy and Peter Christensen) [media]

    Abstract: Public goods may exhibit complementarities that are essential for determining their individ- ual value. Our results indicate that improving safety near parks can turn them from public bads to goods. Ignoring complementarities may lead to i) undervaluing the potential value of public goods; ii) overestimating heterogeneity in preferences; and iii) understating the value of public goods to minority households. Recent reductions in crime have “unlocked” almost $7 billion in property value in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. Still two-fifths of the potential value of park proximity, $10 billion, remains locked-in.

  • Do More Eyes on the Street Reduce Crime? Evidence from Chicago’s Safe Passage Program, Journal of Urban Economics 110 (2019) 1–25 [pdf][link] (Joint with Ruchi Singh and Dan McMillen) [media]

    Abstract: Chicago’s Safe Passage program attempts to ensure the safety of student traveling to and from schools by placing civilian guards along specified routes. The program was launched during the 2009-2010 school year and was expanded to 140 schools by 2015-16. We use data from more than 10 years of geocoded Chicago police reports and school level data to analyze the Safe Passage program’s effects on crime rates and the rate of absenteeism from schools. Our findings suggest that the program is an efficient and cost effective alternative way of policing with direct effects on crime and student’s outcomes. Exploiting both spatial and temporal variation in the implementation of the program, we find that the presence of guards results in lower levels of crime, with violent crime declining by 14% on average. The rate of absenteeism is estimated to decline by 2.5 percentage points. We find no evidence of spillovers of crime to areas that are not along the Safe Passage routes.

Working Papers

  • Can’t Stop the One-Armed Bandits: The Effects of Access to Gambling on Crime (Job Market Paper) (Joint with Nicolas Bottan and Andrés Ham)

    Abstract: We estimate the effects on criminal activity due to the approval of state legislation in Illinois that legalized video gambling. The bill gave municipalities discretion over whether to allow video gambling within their local boundaries. Many jurisdictions adjacent to Chicago opted in, while the City of Chicago opted out. These decisions create a natural experiment that allows studying the effects of increasing access to gambling on crime. Using detailed incident-level crime data and a difference-in-differences strategy, we find that (i) access to gambling increases violent and property crimes; (ii) these crimes represent “new” rather than displaced incidents; and (iii) effects are persistent over time. We further study downstream effects on property values, finding that properties adjacent to gambling establishments sell on average at a three percent discount.

  • Housing Discrimination and the Pollution Exposure Gap in the United States (submitted, WP available upon request) (Joint with Peter Christensen and Christopher Timmins)

    Abstract: This study uses a correspondence experiment in the online housing market to test whether racial discrimination constrains the housing choices of minority renters in markets that contain major sources of airborne chemical toxics. Within-property tests indicate that renters with African American or Hispanic/LatinX names are 41% less likely than renters with white names to gain access to properties in low exposure locations, though there is no evidence of constraints at high exposure locations in the same zip code. The same pattern appears in tests for constraints among highly comparable properties. Tests using data on the recent location decisions of renter households reveal evidence of a 16% race gap in the likelihood of residential exposures in the same markets.

  • Emotional Cues and Crime: Spatial and Temporal Evidence from Brazilian Soccer Games [pdf] [SSRN] (New version coming soon!) (R&R Economic Inquiry) (Joint with Qi Ge and Rodrigo Schneider)

    Abstract: This paper studies the effects of emotional cues and rational incentives on crime. Using police reports that provide granular information on vehicle robberies and thefts in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, we explore the impact of game outcomes of local soccer teams on crime and examine its spatial heterogeneity. Our estimates suggest that crime increase after home games in streets that are within a tight radius from the stadiums. The effect is driven by vehicle thefts with popular car models being more likely to be targeted and is particularly salient after upset losses.

Other Publications

  • ECLAC South American Input-Output Matrix Associate Researcher for Argentina, Ecuador and Paraguay. Available here (In Spanish). Media

Sarmiento Barbieri

University of Illinois