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The effect of business improvement districts on the incidence of violent crimes
  1. John MacDonald1,
  2. Daniela Golinelli2,
  3. Robert J Stokes3,
  4. Ricky Bluthenthal2
  1. 1University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California, USA
  3. 3Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr John M MacDonald, Department of Criminology, University of Pennsylvania, McNeil Building, Suite 483 3718 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6286, USA; johnmm{at}


Objective To examine whether business improvement districts (BID) contributed to greater than expected declines in the incidence of violent crimes in affected neighbourhoods.

Method A Bayesian hierarchical model was used to assess the changes in the incidence of violent crimes between 1994 and 2005 and the implementation of 30 BID in Los Angeles neighbourhoods.

Results The implementation of BID was associated with a 12% reduction in the incidence of robbery (95% posterior probability interval −2 to 24) and an 8% reduction in the total incidence of violent crimes (95% posterior probability interval −5 to 21). The strength of the effect of BID on robbery crimes varied by location.

Conclusion These findings indicate that the implementation of BID can reduce the incidence of violent crimes likely to result in injury to individuals. The findings also indicate that the establishment of a BID by itself is not a panacea, and highlight the importance of targeting BID efforts to crime prevention interventions that reduce violence exposure associated with criminal behaviours.

  • Child health (paediatrics)
  • community
  • epidemiology
  • evaluation
  • optics and refraction
  • policy
  • public health
  • safe community
  • violence

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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  • Funding This research was supported in part by a cooperative agreement from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (1U49CE000773). The opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not represent the official positions of the CDC, the RAND Corporation, or any of its clients.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the RAND institutional review board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.