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The impact of gunshots on place-level business activity

  • Stacy, Christina1
  • Irvin-Erickson, Yasemin2
  • Tiry, Emily3
  • 1 Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute, 500 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC, 20024, USA , Washington (United States)
  • 2 George Mason University, 4400 University Dr, Fairfax, VA, 22030, USA , Fairfax (United States)
  • 3 Urban Institute, 500 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC, 20024, USA , Washington (United States)
Published Article
Crime Science
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Publication Date
May 19, 2021
DOI: 10.1186/s40163-021-00146-9
Springer Nature


ObjectivesGun violence can negatively affect business activity at the place-level through a variety of mechanisms. However, estimating this effect is difficult since reported crime data are biased by factors that are also associated with business health. Despite some of its limitations, data from gunshot detection technology has been shown as a new valuable source of data on gun violence (Irvin-Erickson et al. in Appl Geogr 86: 262–273, 2017a). In this study, we use gunshot detection data to explore the spatial relationship between gunshots and business activity at the neighborhood level in Washington, DC between 2010 and 2012.MethodsIn this exploratory study, we create spatial buffers of 500 and 1000 feet around each block and sum up the total number of gunshots and business births, deaths, sales, and number of employees within these buffers each year and estimate a spatial fixed effects panel model.ResultsGunshots within 1000 feet of a block increase the number of business deaths by 4.3% within that buffer on average, and gunshots within 500 feet of a block decrease the total number of service and retail businesses, the number of employees employed by businesses within that buffer, and total sales for those businesses (although not at a statistically significant rate). Gunshots on blocks with the lowest initial levels of gunshots increase business turnover and reduce the total number of businesses present by 0.5%, and gunshots on blocks with the highest initial levels of gunshots cause an increase in the number of business deaths by 7.5%.ConclusionResults suggest that efforts to improve distressed neighborhoods should target both areas with lower and higher pre-existing levels of gunshots.

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