Seminario CEDE - Miguel Morales-Mosquera
Research on the effects of police presence tends to focus on the impact such policies have on crime rates. Less is known about how much individuals value place-based policing strategies. This paper fills this gap by estimating the willingness-to-pay (WTP) to avoid crime using housing market data in the three largest cities of Colombia. Specifically, I study the effects of 100 newly constructed police stations on crime and property values using an instrumented difference-in-differences design. I find that police deter violent crime by 12 percent and property crime by 22 percent in the immediate vicinity of the newly constructed police stations, with no crime displacement nearby. Using a hedonic pricing model, I find that the opening of new police stations leads to a 5 percent increase in property values —a gain of $3.5 million for households directly affected. While hedonic regressions identify the effect of crime on housing values for the marginal buyer, I estimate a correlated random coefficients model and show that the welfare effects of crime are homogeneously distributed in the population. I conclude that the average marginal WTP to avoid crime due to the local effects of the intervention is $4,500 per household. These results suggest that cities under-provide policing and target high crime neighborhoods while the benefits are widespread.