Job Market Paper

"Police Infrastructure, Police Performance and Crime: Evidence from Austerity Cuts"

Honorable Mention at the 15th North American Meeting of the Urban Economics Association

Selected to participate to the 2021 EALE JM tour

The effect of neighbourhood police on citizens’ welfare is poorly understood. Yet, this is a key parameter in evaluating the impacts of reductions of police spending. I exploit a large wave of austerity cuts to police forces in London, which resulted in the closure of 70% of police stations, while preserving the police force size. I combine novel granular data on reported crime, location of police stations and their closure, and information on individual crimes’ judicial outcomes. I show that the reduced local police presence led to a persistent significant increase in violent crimes, consistent with lower deterrence, and reduced clearance rates, indicating lower police effectiveness. I also provide suggestive evidence consistent with reduced reporting of non-violent crimes, as citizens internalise a higher reporting cost. Overall, the policy led to a sizeable reduction in citizens’ welfare, which I document by showing a decrease in house prices concentrated in high-crime and more deprived census blocks, further exacerbating already existing inequality. Together, the closures produced considerable distributional and efficiency losses, and generated costs that substantially outweigh the benefits in terms of lower public expenditure for the criminal justice system.

"Exposure to crime and pupils' outcomes: Evidence from London" Poster

Media coverage: Royal Economic Society

Estimation of unintended costs of crime is scarce, although essential. This paper investigates a prominent indirect cost of crime, i.e. the effect of exposure to crime on achievement of pupils enrolled in primary school. I employ novel geo-referenced data on the universe of crimes from police records in London. The analysis takes advantage of the very fine spatial variation in crimes and in pupils' residences, precisely measuring the exposure to crime in the surroundings of pupils' homes. By exploiting the within-school variation in crime, I find that crime occurring where pupils live has a significant negative impact on pupils' achievement at the final exams of primary school. The heterogeneity analysis shows that high-ability and wealthy students are those who suffer the most from exposure to crime. I find evidence of decreasing marginal sensitivity to crime, as pupils living in less criminal areas suffer the most from exposure to crime. Overall, I interpret this evidence as consistent with a story of scarring effect and adaptation.

"Should you Meet the Parents? The impact of information on non-test score attributes on school choice", with Lorenzo Neri (University of St. Andrews) and Marco Ovidi (Catholic University of Milan) [submitted]

We study the role of non-test score school attributes in school choice. We exploit an intervention designed to provide hard-to-find information on non-test score school attributes in a setting where information on academic performance is already widespread and not shifted by the programme we study. We find that the treatment increases enrolment in local public-sector schools relative to private institutions, and boosts competition for schools with attributes associated with parental demand, such as high quality and with characteristics similar to private schools. Effects are driven by most affluent parents and families less rooted in the local community. We support the interpretation of our results through survey evidence and text analysis. Our results imply that relatively simple interventions may increase state schools' financial resources and the quality of the student intake.

Work in progress

"When non-native speakers compete for top schools: Displacement and peer effects in primary education", with Francesco Fasani (University of Milan), Elisabetta Pasini (Alma Economics) and Barbara Petrongolo (University of Oxford)

We study the impact of migrants’ demand for school places on school displacement and achievement of native students, exploiting the unprecedented migrant inflows into the UK that followed the 2004 EU enlargement. We predict migrants' location in the UK based on a novel instrument that exploits variation from the 1940s dispersal policy of Polish troops. We find that the increased presence of foreign students displaces natives from faith, high-achieving primary schools in the public sector. Natives are displaced towards schools with similar value added and distance from home, but with a higher proportion of lower performing and disadvantaged peers. We find that migrants’ presence is on average associated with higher test scores among natives. We provide evidence supporting the hypothesis that displaced students generate beneficial peer effects on native pupils exposed to them following displacement. These findings suggest that migrants' presence has overall net positive effects on the educational outcomes of natives via gains at the bottom of the attainment distribution.

"Criminal Organisations and Labour Market Dynamics", with Luigi Guiso (EIEF) and Rocco Macchiavello (LSE)

This project is made possible thanks to the Visitinps Scholars program, granting access to the universe of Italian Social Security Data.

This project studies how the infiltration of organized crime groups in the legal economy affects labour market dynamics. We focus on the case of 'Ndrangheta, a criminal organisation originated in Calabria, in the South of Italy, that gradually expanded in Northern Italy and abroad. We combine a dataset of individuals affiliated to 'Ndrangheta and merge them to a matched employer-employee dataset of Italian firms. We build the network of legal firms infiltrated by the criminal organization and study how workers selection into, and workers employment trajectories at, these firms differ from those of non-infiltrated firms in terms of wages, experience profile and out-migration patterns. We explore how these outcomes differ in the home regions relative to the regions of expansions of the criminal organizations.