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Do Public Libraries Help Mitigate Crime? Evidence from Kansas City, MO

Borges Ferreira Neto, Amir and Nowicki, Jennifer and Shakya, Shishir (2021): Do Public Libraries Help Mitigate Crime? Evidence from Kansas City, MO.

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Abstract

We examine the relationship between public libraries and local crime rates. Previous studies have looked at different factors that could account for changes in crime, but few have focused on cultural institutions as a primary factor. Using crime data from the Crime Open Database and library data from the Public Library Survey, we leverage the geolocation of crimes and libraries and explore opening a new public library branch in Kansas City, MO. We use a difference-in-difference strategy. Our results show that public library may reduce crime within its nearby proximity. In particular, we find within the nearby proximity of the library a substantial reduction of burglary, vandalism, robbery, fraud, and assault. However, such effects vanish in the distant proximity of the library.

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