The paper investigates the effect of local economic conditions on crime. The study focuses on Italy’s local labor markets and analyzes the short-term response of crime to the severe slump of 2007-2009. It shows that the downturn led to a significant increase in economic-related offenses that do not require particular criminal skills or tools (namely, thefts); on the other hand, for offenses for which specific skills and criminal experience are essential (say, robberies) the impact of the crisis was negative. The results also suggest that: i) labor market institutions (i.e. wage supplementary schemes and pro-worker contractual arrangements) had a role in slowing down the effect of the economy on crime; ii) the link between the downturn and crime was weaker in areas where the presence of organized crime is relatively more intensive.
Published in 2016 in: Economics Letters, 146, pp. 99-102