Volume 31 - Article 21 | Pages 625–658  

Local determinants of crime: Do military bases matter?

By Alfredo Paloyo, Colin Vance, Matthias Vorell


Background: The majority of crime is committed by young men, and young men comprise the majority of the military-base population. The confluence of these two empirical regularities invites a scientific look at the contribution of a military base to criminal activity in ist geographic periphery.

Objective: We estimate the impact on criminal activity of the massive base realignments and closures that occurred in Germany for the period 2003-2007. In particular, we examine breaking and entering, automobile-related crime, violent crime, and drug-related crime.

Methods: We use a fixed-effect model to account for time-invariant unobservables in a panel of 298 military bases. We also take advantage of geographic information system software to mitigate issues arising from the spatial nature of the dataset.

Results: The estimates indicate that the base realignments and closures did not have a significant impact on criminal activity surrounding the base. Traditional correlates of crime remain statistically significant in our specifications.

Conclusions: Although crime is largely committed by young men, we find that the closure of military bases, which are staffed primarily by young men, does not have an impact on criminal activity. For matters of regional policy, we find that arguments pertaining to criminal activity generated by military bases are not supported by the data.

Comments: Economic well-being, as measured by real GNP and relative disposable income, is negatively associated with crime. Higher unemployment has a positive association. Regions with higher share of foreigners also have higher crime levels.

Author's Affiliation

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