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COVID-19 and Crime

Lindsey Rose Bullinger, Jillian B. Carr and Analisa Packham

American Journal of Health Economics, 2021, vol. 7, issue 3, 249 - 280

Abstract: COVID-19 has led to an abrupt change in time spent at home, with many cities and states implementing official stay-at-home (SAH), or “lockdown,” policies. Using cell phone block-level activity data and administrative 911 and crime data from the City of Chicago, we estimate the effects of the Illinois governor’s SAH order on calls for police service, crimes recorded by police, and arrests made relating to domestic violence. We find that the SAH order announcement increased time spent at home, leading to a decrease in total calls for police service, but a subsequent increase in domestic violence–related calls for police service. However, we find that official reports by police officers and arrests for domestic violence crimes fell by 6.8 percent and 26.4 percent, respectively. Declines in reported domestic violence crimes mirror drops in total reported crimes; however, the reduction for domestic violence crimes is around 5 times smaller than the decline in overall crime rates.

Date: 2021
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Handle: RePEc:ucp:amjhec:doi:10.1086/713787