Were cell phones associated with lower crime in the 1990s and 2000s?

Erin A. Orrick, Alex R. Piquero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Empirical studies of the crime decline of the 1990s and early 2000s have focused on factors such as: incarceration, economy, policing, demographics, security-related technology, and abortion. One recent analysis examined the growth in mobile phone technology, finding tentative support for a deterrent effect, but is in need of expansion and replication. The current study uses national-level data from 1984 to 2009 and performs time-series analysis to examine the relationship between cell phone ownership and a range of crime types. Results indicate a significant, negative relationship between changes in cell phone ownership rates and changes in the property crime index, even with controls for relevant crime-drop variables, but a very minimal relationship to the violent crime index. Implications and directions for future research are noted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-234
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Crime and Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • cell phone ownership
  • crime drop
  • property crime
  • security hypothesis
  • violent crime

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