Encyclopedia of Law and Economics

2019 Edition
| Editors: Alain Marciano, Giovanni Battista Ramello

Broken Window Effect

  • Joël J. van der WeeleEmail author
  • Mataka P. Flynn
  • Rogier J. van der Wolk
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7753-2_624


The broken windows effect refers to the hypothesis that there is a positive effect of urban disorder on the incidence of more serious crimes, where the term “broken windows” represents a range of disorders within communities. The hypothesis has been the subject of an intensive academic debate and has had an important effect on law enforcement in the USA, where it increased the focus on community policing and zero tolerance. This essay reviews the evidence for the existence of the broken windows effect and the effectiveness of the associated policing strategies.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joël J. van der Weele
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mataka P. Flynn
    • 2
  • Rogier J. van der Wolk
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Faculty of LawVrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Faculty of LawUniversiteit van AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands