We estimate the causal effect of repeated exposure to violent crime on test scores in New York City. We use two distinct empirical strategies; value-added models linking student performance on standardized exams to violent crimes on a student’s residential block, and a regression discontinuity approach that identifies the acute effect of an additional crime exposure within a one-week window. Exposure to violent crime reduces academic performance. Value added models suggest the average effect is very small; approximately -0.01 standard deviations in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. RD models suggest a larger effect, particularly among children previously exposed. The marginal acute effect is as large as -0.04 standard deviations for students with two or more prior exposures. Among these, it is even larger for black students, almost a 10th of a standard deviation. We provide credible causal evidence that repeated exposure to neighborhood violence harms test scores, and this negative effect increases with exposure.

Document Type

Working Paper


Fall 11-2016


Neighborhood Effects, Crime, Academic Performance, Racial Disparities, Educational Outcomes, Regression Discontinuity, Value Added Model




Working Papers Series


Criminology and Criminal Justice | Econometrics | Public Affairs | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration



Additional Information

Working paper no. 195

wp195.pdf (663 kB)
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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.



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