HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Academic Dean
Isabelle and Scott Black Professor of Political Economy, HKS; Professor of Education and Economics, HGSE


Social interactions may explain the large variance in criminal activity across neighborhoods and time. We present direct evidence of social spillovers in crime using random variation in neighborhood residence along opposite sides of a newly drawn school boundary. We first show evidence for agglomeration effects—within small neighborhood areas, grouping more disadvantaged students together in the same school increases total crime. We then show that these youths are more likely to be arrested for committing crimes together—to be "partners in crime". Our results show that neighborhood and school segregation increase crime by fostering social interactions between at-risk youth.


Billings, Stephen B., David J. Deming, and Stephen L. Ross. "Partners in Crime." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 11.1 (January 2019): 126-150.