Lighting and violent crimes: evaluating the effect of an electrification policy in rural Brazil on violent crime reduction

Produced by: 
São Paulo School of Economics FGV
Available from: 
January 2016
Paper author(s): 
Paulo Arvate
Filipe Ortiz Falsete
Felipe Garcia Ribeiro
André Portela
Topic: 
Conflict, Crime and Violence
Year: 
2016

This paper estimates the effect of lighting on violent crime reduction. We explore an electrification program (LUZ PARA TODOS or Light for All - LPT) adopted by the federal government to expand electrification to rural areas in all Brazilian municipalities in the 2000s as an exogenous source of variation in electrification expansion. Our instrumental variable results show a reduction in homicide rates (approximately five homicides per 100,000 inhabitants) on rural roads/urban streets when a municipality moved from no access to full coverage of electricity between 2000 and 2010. These findings are even more significant in the northern and northeastern regions of Brazil, where rates of electrification are lower than those of the rest of the country and, thus, where the program is concentrated. In the north (northeast), the number of violent deaths on the streets per 100,000 inhabitants decreased by 48.12 (13.43). This moved a municipality at the 99th percentile (75th) to the median (zero) of the crime distribution of municipalities. Finally, we do not find effects on violent deaths in households and at other locations. Because we use an IV strategy by exploring the LPT program eligibility criteria, we can interpret the results as the estimated impact of the program on those experiencing an increase in electricity coverage due to their program eligibility. Thus, the results represent local average treatment effects of lighting on homicides.

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