Monday 12 January 2009

Do Broken Windows Really Cause More Crime?

SEED magazine reports on an interesting experiment carried out in holland to see whether the broken window theory is correct.

The theory comes from an original article pubished in 1982 by Atlantic magazine. To quote Wikipedia

"Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars."

There has been much debate on whether this is true, but in the six carefully controlled tests setup by the University of Groningen, it certainly appeared to be a major factor

When an envelope containing a five-euro note was left hanging out of a mailbox on a sidewalk, 13 % of the passersby snatched it up. When the same mailbox was covered in graffiti, however, more than double the number of the pedestrians (about 27 %) took the envelope.

The original article is here

and thanks to Matt Cutts for telling me about this

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