Formal Employment and Organized Crime: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Colombia

Jorge Tamayo, Anant Nyshadham, Carlos Medina, Gaurav Khanna
Content Type
Working Paper
Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC)
Canonical models of crime emphasize economic incentives. Yet, causal evidence of sorting into criminal occupations in response to individual-level variation in incentives is limited. We link administrative socioeconomic microdata with the universe of arrests in Medellίn over a decade. We exploit exogenous variation in formal-sector employment around a socioeconomic-score cutoff, below which individuals receive benefits if not formally employed, to test whether a higher cost to formal-sector employment induces crime. Regression discontinuity estimates show this policy generated reductions in formal-sector employment and a corresponding spike in organized crime, but no effects on crimes of impulse or opportunity.
Crime, Economics, Political Economy, Labor Issues
Political Geography
Colombia, Latin America