Border Fortification and the Economics of Crime [with Anna Getmansky and Guy Grossman]

An important challenge in the crime literature is to separate deterrence from displacement. We estimate the causal effect of a large, plausibly random border fortification project on crime in Israel. The timing of fortification was staggered, disrupting smuggling access to some towns before others. Using data on the location of car thefts before and after fortification, we find a large deterrent effect in protected towns (41% decline) and substantial displacement to not-yet-protected towns (34% increase). For some protected towns, fortification also arbitrarily increased the length of preferred smuggling routes. These granular disruptions further deterred auto theft (6% drop per kilometer).


The latest draft is here.