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Does Homeownership Reduce Crime? A Radical Housing Reform from the UK

Disney, Richard; Gathergood, John; Machin, Stephen; Sandi, Matteo


Richard Disney

Stephen Machin

Matteo Sandi


“Right to Buy” (RTB), a large-scale natural experiment whereby incumbent tenants in public housing could buy properties at heavily-subsidised prices, increased the UK homeownership rate by over 10 percentage points between its 1980 introduction and the 1990s. This paper studies the impact of this reform on crime by leveraging exogenous variation in eligibility for the policy. Results show that RTB generated significant property crime reductions. Behavioural changes of incumbent tenants and renovation of public properties were the main drivers of this crime reduction. This is evidence of a novel means by which subsidised homeownership and housing policy can reduce criminality.


Disney, R., Gathergood, J., Machin, S., & Sandi, M. (in press). Does Homeownership Reduce Crime? A Radical Housing Reform from the UK. Economic Journal,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 9, 2023
Deposit Date Sep 21, 2022
Journal Economic Journal
Print ISSN 0013-0133
Electronic ISSN 1468-0297
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Crime; Homeownership; Public Housing
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