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

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

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Authors

Richard Disney

Stephen Machin

Matteo Sandi



Abstract

‘Right to Buy’, a large-scale natural experiment whereby incumbent tenants in public housing could buy properties at heavily subsidised prices, increased the United Kingdom 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 Right to Buy 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.

Citation

Disney, R., Gathergood, J., Machin, S., & Sandi, M. (2023). Does Homeownership Reduce Crime? A Radical Housing Reform from the UK. Economic Journal, 133(655), 2640–2675. https://doi.org/10.1093/ej/uead040

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 9, 2023
Online Publication Date Jun 5, 2023
Publication Date Oct 1, 2023
Deposit Date Sep 21, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2025
Journal Economic Journal
Print ISSN 0013-0133
Electronic ISSN 1468-0297
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 133
Issue 655
Pages 2640–2675
DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/ej/uead040
Keywords Crime; Homeownership; Public Housing
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/11466499
Publisher URL https://academic.oup.com/ej/article/133/655/2640/7190617

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