Steven D. Levitt is a Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation, and an Associate Professor of Economics, University of Chicago He received a Ph.D. in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. Before joining the University of Chicago and the American Bar Foundation, he was a junior fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows for three years. His work has examined a broad range of crime-related topics, as well as quantitative analyses of the American political system, and the internal workings of organizations.Current research interests include: an economic analysis of gang finances. With co-author Sudhir Venkatesh, Levitt has obtained access to detailed financial data compiled by a drug-selling gang over a four-year period. The data includes information on drug sales, revenues from extortion, detailed expenditure breakdowns (e.g. wages, guns, tribute to the central gang, etc.). Combining this information with observational data on the number of arrests, fatalities, and injuries, the researchers were able to characterize the financial aspect of gangs in a way never previously done.The impact of race on policing, arrest patterns, and crime. With co-author John Donohue, Levitt is examining the role of race in policing. This research suggests that race matters in policing. Police forces that add white officers see a disproportionate increase in arrests of non-whites; police forces that add non-white officers see disproportionate increases in arrests of whites. Furthermore, there is some evidence that cross-race policing is more effective in reducing crime.Changes in the age structure, crime rates, and the non-existent juvenile-led crime wave. Criminologists have warned for many years that the next fifteen years will see a demographically driven crime wave as the number of teenagers and young adults rises. Careful analysis by Levitt, however, reveals that the impact of age structure on crime rates is, in fact, quite limited at the aggregate level (although undeniably important at the level of the individual). Historically, changing age structure can explain no more than twenty percent of the rise in crime between 1960 and 1980.
(1997). Using electoral cycles in police hiring to estimate the effect of police on crime.American Economic Review 87, 270.(1996). The effect of prison population size on crime rates: Evidence from prison overcrowding litigation. Quarterly Journal of Economics 111, 319.