Street Crime and Street Culture

A model shows how reputation concerns can support widespread street crime, a street culture, where the direct incentives for such behavior are weak. There are social benefits to street reputations, but those benefits are dominated when reputation concerns draw into crime those who obtain no direct gain from it. The model matches facts about violent crime that a standard model cannot easily explain including low monetary returns, disproportionate victimization of the young and poor, and high variance in rates across small distances. The model generates novel implications for policy and social science, including a negative effect of social capital.