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Resource booms and crime: Evidence from oil and gas production in Colorado

Patrick Gourley and Greg Madonia

Resource and Energy Economics, 2018, vol. 54, issue C, 37-52

Abstract: The 21st century oil and gas boom is drastically changing life in the American West. While previous literature has examined how resource booms affect household income and infant health, the effects of resource booms on crime remain largely unstudied. We develop a simple model that demonstrates an oil and gas boom could increase or decrease crime as employment opportunities, inequality, and other aspects of the local economy change. Combining well data provided by drillinginfo.com and FBI incident-level crime data; we examine intra-county changes in both property and violent crime in Colorado as wells open and shut down. We find a positive relationship between the well density of a county and both violent and property crimes. This suggests that while counties in resource intense areas may receive a financial windfall from a rapidly expanding industry base, increased public safety spending may be needed to counteract increases in crime.

Keywords: Resource Boom; Crime; Hydraulic Fracturing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q33 K14 J61 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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