Mortgage Foreclosures and the Changing Mix of Crime in Micro-neighborhoods

Johanna Lacoe, Ingrid Gould Ellen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The main objectives of the study are to estimate the impact of mortgage foreclosures on the location of criminal activity within a blockface. Drawing on routine activity theory, disorder theory, and social disorganization theory, the study explores potential mechanisms that link foreclosures to crime. Methods: To estimate the relationship between foreclosures and localized crime, we use detailed foreclosure and crime data at the blockface level in Chicago and a difference-in-difference estimation strategy. Results: Overall, mortgage foreclosures increase crime on blockfaces. Foreclosures have a larger impact on crime that occurs inside residences than on crime in the street. The impact of foreclosures on crime location varies by crime type (violent, property, and public order crime). Conclusions: The evidence supports the three main theoretical mechanisms that link foreclosure activity to local crime. The investigation of the relationship by crime location suggests that foreclosures change the relative attractiveness of indoor and outdoor locations for crime commission on the blockface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)717-746
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 16 2015


  • causes/correlates
  • communities and crime
  • crime
  • criminological theory
  • policy
  • routine activity theory
  • social disorganization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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