Do Cell Phones Deter Crime? Evidence from 2000-2006 State-Level Panel Data

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Spring 2009

Project Description/Abstract

The theoretical link between cell phones and crime is ambiguous. Anecdotal evidence suggests that because they provide instant access to police, can be used as a tracking device, and can provide evidence of a crime, cell phones might reduce crime. Alternatively, research shows that the increased feeling of safety associated with cell phone ownership causes users to venture into unsafe areas after dark and that cell phone use reduces situation awareness. Thus, cell phones might lead to more crime. This study examines the relationship between cell phones and crime using 2000-2006 state-level data. Very preliminary results are promising – a 20% increase in cell phone ownership per capita would result in drops of 1.4% and 2.2%, respectively, in property and violent crime. I seek a FLRG for a Fall course release so that I can complete this study and generate a paper suitable for both national conference presentation and publication.

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