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Project: Consequences of becoming a vulnerable area

How has the introduction of the police's list of vulnerable areas affected the life chances of residents in these areas? How has the surrounding society reacted to this list? This project studies these questions and others.

Project information

Project manager
Hans Grönqvist
Other project members
Magdalena Dominguez, Mattias Engdahl, Susan Niknami and Torsten Santavirta
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University, IFAU, London School of Economics, Stockholm University, University of Helsinki
Swedish Research Council
Economics (Department of Economics and Statistics, School of Business)

More about the project

In 2015, the Swedish police began publishing reports that identified neighborhoods as "vulnerable." The publication of the list has led to significant media interest, and the designated areas are often described in the media in a stigmatizing way. How has the introduction of this list affected the life chances of residents in these areas? How has the surrounding society reacted to this list?

These are questions that are often asked in current debates and by researchers. However, social science theory does not provide clear answers on what the effect of the list's introduction might be on residents.

On the one hand, the classification of residential areas could be thought to worsen individuals' opportunities if they are forced to adapt their behavior in response to actual or expected discrimination from the surrounding society.

On the other hand, it is possible that individuals try to compensate for potentially negative attitudes from the surrounding society by exerting extra effort. The net effect on individuals' outcomes is therefore an empirical question that the existing literature has not been able to answer satisfactorily due to strong data and method requirements.

This project uses unique geocoded data that includes information on the exact location of residence, school, and workplace, and quasi-experimental research methods to solve these methodological problems.

First, the project documents, using text analysis of all media articles since 2000, the effect of the introduction of the police's list on how the mass media characterizes vulnerable areas. Then, the effects on (i) students' and teachers' school choices, (ii) local job market opportunities, and (iii) crime, are investigated.