The academic effects of chronic exposure to neighbourhood violence

Amy Ellen Schwartz, Agustina Laurito, Johanna Lacoe, Patrick Sharkey, Ingrid Gould Ellen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This paper estimates the causal effect of repeated exposure to violent crime on test scores in New York City. We use two empirical strategies; value-added models linking student performance on standardised exams to violent crimes on students’ residential block, and a regression discontinuity approach that identifies the acute effect of additional crime exposure within a one-week window. Exposure to violent crime reduces academic performance. Value-added models suggest the average effect is very small (approximately −0.01 standard deviations) but grows with repeated exposure. Regression discontinuity (RD) models also find a larger effect among children previously exposed. The marginal acute effect is as large as −0.04 standard deviations for students with two or more prior exposures. Among these, it is almost one tenth of a standard deviation for Black students. We provide credible causal evidence that repeated exposure to neighbourhood violence harms test scores, and this negative effect increases with exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3005-3021
Number of pages17
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number14
StatePublished - Nov 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


  • children
  • education
  • neighbourhood effects
  • neighbourhood violence
  • violent crime


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