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Does Movie Violence Increase Violent Crime?

Gordon Dahl and Stefano DellaVigna ()

No 13718, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Laboratory experiments in psychology find that media violence increases aggression in the short run. We analyze whether media violence affects violent crime in the field. We exploit variation in the violence of blockbuster movies from 1995 to 2004, and study the effect on same-day assaults. We find that violent crime decreases on days with larger theater audiences for violent movies. The effect is partly due to voluntary incapacitation: between 6PM and 12AM, a one million increase in the audience for violent movies reduces violent crime by 1.1 to 1.3 percent. After exposure to the movie, between 12AM and 6AM, violent crime is reduced by an even larger percent. This finding is explained by the self-selection of violent individuals into violent movie attendance, leading to a substitution away from more volatile activities. In particular, movie attendance appears to reduce alcohol consumption. Like the laboratory experiments, we find indirect evidence that movie violence increases violent crime; however, this effect is dominated by the reduction in crime induced by a substitution away from more dangerous activities. Overall, our estimates suggest that in the short-run violent movies deter almost 1,000 assaults on an average weekend. While our design does not allow us to estimate long-run effects, we find no evidence of medium-run effects up to three weeks after initial exposure.

JEL-codes: A12 C91 C93 J08 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cul, nep-hap, nep-law, nep-soc and nep-ure
Date: 2008-01
Note: CH LE LS PE
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (5) Track citations by RSS feed

Published as Gordon Dahl & Stefano DellaVigna, 2009. "Does Movie Violence Increase Violent Crime?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 677-734, May.

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Journal Article: Does Movie Violence Increase Violent Crime? (2009) Downloads
Working Paper: Does Movie Violence Increase Violent Crime? (2007) Downloads
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