Behavioral Reactions to Crime: Time Use, Labor and Health Behaviors
AbstractIn this paper, I address mostly unmeasured external costs of high profile acts of violence: changes in individual behaviors due to indirect exposure to these acts and whether they create unexpected costs for individuals and society.
To address this, I measure the impact of indirect exposure to mass shootings on daily activity levels, hours worked and mental health outcomes using data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), Current Population Survey (CPS), Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) and exploiting variation in time and geographical location of 45 mass shootings spanning from 2003 to 2016.
I find that being within 500 miles shortly after a mass shooting, overall activity levels decrease by 1.4 percent measured in metabolic equivalents of task (MET). This decrease in activity is equivalent to walking 14 minutes less per day. The decrease is highest for women, younger individuals and African Americans. Also, individuals spend less time in public places and doing recreational activities and sports.
In addition, I show that exposure to these events leads to a 2.1 percent increase in days where perceived mental health was not good. Finally, I find a 0.5 percent decrease in hours worked which is equivalent to 10.7 minutes a week, and this decrease that is greater for women.
These results show that aside from direct victims, mass shootings also have an impact on the behavior of a broader portion of the population.