The Impact of Living-Wage Ordinances on Urban Crime


  • The authors thank Scott Adams for providing data on living wage ordinances through 2002. Parts of the crime data used in this paper were assembled by Rob Fornango, and made available to the authors by the Committee on Law and Justice. The authors remain solely responsible for how the data have been used and interpreted. Pepper's research was supported in part by the Bankard Fund for Political Economy. They would also like to thank the editor and the anonymous referees as well as the participants of the Midwest Economic Association Conference (Cleveland, OH) for their helpful comments.


We examine the impact of living wages on crime. Past research has found that living wages appear to increase unemployment while providing greater returns to market work. The impact on crime, therefore, is unclear. Using data on annual crime rates for large cities in the United States, we find that living-wage ordinances are associated with notable reductions in property-related crime and no discernable impact on nonproperty crimes.