Peer-Reviewed Articles

Torrats-Espinosa, Gerard.  (Forthcoming, February 2020). “Crime and Inequality in Academic Achievement Across School Districts in the United States.” Demography
⊕ Replication files: Some data require special access and can’t be shared publicly.  

Ellen, Ingrid G., Michael Suher, and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. 2019. “Neighbors and Networks: The Role of Social Interactions on the Residential Choices of Housing Choice Voucher Holders.” Journal of Housing Economics 43: 56-71

Ellen, Ingrid G. and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. 2018. “Gentrification and Fair Housing: Does Gentrification Further Integration?Housing Policy Debate: 1-17

Balcells, Laia and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. 2018. “Using a Natural Experiment to Estimate the Electoral Consequences of Terrorist Attacks.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 
   ⊕ Press coverage: Washington Post, The Print
   ⊕ Replication files: Harvard Dataverse

Heissel, Jennifer A., Patrick Sharkey, Gerard Torrats-Espinosa, Kathryn Grant, and Emma K. Adam. 2018. “Violence and Vigilance: The Acute Effects of Community Violent Crime on Sleep and Cortisol.” Child Development: 89(4): 323-331

Sharkey, Patrick, Gerard Torrats-Espinosa, and Delaram Takyar. 2017. “Community and the Crime Decline: The Causal Effect of Local Nonprofits on Violent Crime.American Sociological Review 82(6): 1214–1240
   ⊕ Press coverage: NYTimes, Minnesota PostBloomberg, Curbed
   ⊕ Replication files: Harvard Dataverse

Sharkey, Patrick and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. 2017. “The Effect of Violent Crime on Economic Mobility.” Journal of Urban Economics 102: 22-33
   ⊕ Press coverage: Washington Post, CityLab

Book Chapters

Ellen, Ingrid G., Brian J. McCabe, and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. (Forthcoming). “How Can Historic Preservation Be More Inclusive?” in Preservation and Social Inclusion. Columbia University Press.

Weiss, Christopher, Emma Garcia, and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. 2015. “A Comparative Analysis of the Relationship between Learning Environments and Educational Performance in Japan and the United States” Pp. 211-240 in Japan Viewed from Interdisciplinary Perspectives edited by Yoneyuki Sugita. Lexington Books.

Work in Progress

Torrats-Espinosa, Gerard. “Business Improvement Districts and Crime: Evidence from Chicago”

⊕ Abstract: This study combines administrative and survey data to estimate the impact of Chicago’s business improvement districts, known as Special Service Areas (SSAs), on crime rates and on indicators of community well-being and social cohesion. Results from a difference-in-differences approach and from a synthetic control approach suggest that SSAs created between 1994 and 2017 led to reductions in homicides, robberies, burglaries, and auto-thefts. Crime reductions in the areas where the SSAs operate did not displace crime to neighboring areas. The analysis of survey data reveals that individuals living in the neighborhoods where the SSAs were created reported lower rates of victimization. These findings are consistent with prior evidence from other cities and shed light on the role that community organizations have played in reducing crime rates in the United States.

Torrats-Espinosa, Gerard and Patrick Sharkey. “The Fall of Violence and the Reconfiguration of Urban Neighborhoods.”

⊕ Abstract: Over the past few decades, American cities have undergone dramatic change driven in large part by two major trends: the fall of violence, and the rise of urban inequality. Despite the attention given to each of these trends, there has been little research designed to assess how they are related to each other. In particular, we know of no research that has generated causal evidence on the impact of declining violence on economic segregation, or the degree to which the poor live apart from the rich. In this study, we present evidence on the impact of the crime drop on economic segregation in 645 cities in the United States between 1990 and 2015, using temporal shocks to city crime rates to identify causal effects. Our findings indicate that while the crime decline has not overturned the trend toward rising economic segregation, it has slowed its pace—in cities where crime declined more substantially, the segregation of poor households has grown more slowly or not at all. Our results suggest that falling violence reduces the segregation of poverty not by displacing poor residents, but rather by inducing an inflow of residents who are more likely to be white and have a college education into neighborhoods that had the highest poverty rates in 1990. However, in cities with tight housing markets where vacancy rates were low in 1990, we do find evidence that falling violence also leads to migration of poor households out of high-poverty neighborhoods, a finding that could reflect a process of gentrification and displacement of the poor. Although the rise of urban inequality has continued even as violence has fallen, the crime decline has had its greatest impact on concentrated poverty, which has long been thought of as one of the most problematic and harmful dimensions of urban inequality.

Ellen, Ingrid G. and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. “High-Cost Cities, Gentrification, and Voucher Use.”

⊕ Abstract: Over the last decade and a half, rents have risen throughout much of the country, with the median gross rent rising seven percent nationally between 2001 and 2014, even after controlling for inflation.  One potential tool to protect low-income tenants from rising rents is the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. Using restricted administrative data on the voucher program from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), we examine whether larger increases in median rents in a metropolitan area are associated with more frequent moves among voucher households, higher rent burdens, and higher neighborhood poverty.  Where possible, we compare the changes experienced by voucher holders to those experienced by the broader set of poor renters to learn if vouchers help to buffer the effects of rising rents. We find that rising rents in a metropolitan area are associated with a slight increase in the likelihood of moving and a slight increase in rent-to-income ratios among voucher holders in that metropolitan area.  The increases in rent burden are concentrated among those with initial rents close to the voucher payment standard.  Poor renters more generally see much larger increases in rent-to-income ratios as market rents rise.  However, perhaps surprisingly, we find that voucher holders end up, if anything, in lower poverty neighborhoods as median rents rise in their metropolitan area.  The magnitudes are again small, however, and similar to those experienced by other poor families.  Further, the reduction in poverty is experienced only by voucher holders living in central cities, suggesting it may be driven by greater gentrification of urban neighborhoods in metropolitan areas with rising rents.

De Filippo, Alexandra, Michael Kaemingk, Katherine Rodrigues, and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. Reducing Teachers’ Attitudes Toward Corporal Punishment. Experimental Evidence from a Tanzanian Refugee Camp.”