April 2012

IZA DP No. 6477: Police and Crime: Evidence from Dictated Delays in Centralized Police Hiring

This paper exploits dictated delays in local police hiring by a centralized national authority to break the simultaneity between police and crime. In Italy police officers can only be hired through lengthy national public contests which the Parliament, the President, and the Court of Auditors need to approve. Typically it takes three years before the requested police officers are recruited and become operational. We show that this endogeneity vanishes once, controlling for countrywide year effects, we use positive changes in the number of police officers. The availability of data on two police forces, specialized in fighting different crimes, provides convincing counterfactual evidence on the robustness of our results. Despite the inefficient hiring system, regular Italian police forces seem to be as efficient in fighting crimes as the US ones, with two notable exceptions: auto thefts and burglaries.