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14. Juni 2023

SOEP Brown Bag Seminar

High-profile crime and perceived public safety: evidence from Cologne's New Year's Eve in 2015


14. Juni 2023


Karl Popper Room
DIW Berlin
Room 2.3.020
Mohrenstr. 58
10117 Berlin


Martin Lange, ZEW – Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung

joint with Alexander Schmidt-Catran, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt

This study analyses the impact of a high-profile crime event on perceived public safety. At the 2015 New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne (NYE), Germany, refugees allegedly committed thousands of crimes, ranging from theft to sexual assault. The widespread media coverage of these incidents has made a shift in the publics’ perceived safety plausible. We empirically analyze this proposition using a difference-in-differences strategy. Using the European Social Survey, we estimate the differential response of German respondents to those of other European countries in terms of perceived safety after NYE. We find that Germans feel less safe after the NYE incidents. Women and individuals leaning toward the political right are affected the most. The analysis of search queries suggests that the loss of perceived safety may also translate into higher demand for defense goods.