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John MacDonald

Professor John MacDonald is the Chair of Penn’s Criminology Department in the School of Arts and Sciences. Much of his research focuses on the effect of public policy responses on crime in the U.S.


  • Ph.D., Criminology, University of Maryland, 1999
  • M.A., Criminology, University of Maryland, 1996
  • B.A., Political Science, Vassar College, 1994


Professor of Criminology and Sociology; Penny and Robert A. Fox Faculty Director, Fels Institute of Government


Arts and Sciences



Research Interests


Michael Chirico, Robert Inman, Charles Loeffler, John MacDonald, Holger Sieg (2017) Procrastination and Property Tax Compliance: Evidence from a Field Experiment, Working Paper.

MacDonald, John, and Robert J. Sampson (2012). Immigration and the Changing Social Fabric of American Cities. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 641.

MacDonald , John M. (2011) Measuring Crime and Criminality, Advances in Criminological Theory, Vol. 17, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Kondo, Michelle, Seung Hoon Han, Geoffrey H. Donovan, John M. MacDonald (2017).  The Association between Urban Trees and Crime: Evidence from the Spread of the Emerald Ash Borer in Cincinnati, Landscape and Urban Planning, 157, 193-199.

Branas, Charles C., Michelle C. Kondo, Sean M. Murphy, Eugenia C. South, Daniel Polsky, and John M. MacDonald (2016). Urban Blight Remediation as a Cost-Beneficial Solution to Firearm Violence, American Journal of Public Health, 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303434.

MacDonald John, Jefferey Fagan, and Amanda Geller (2016). The Effects of Local Police Surges on Crime and Arrests in New York City, PLoS ONE, 11(6), e0157223.

Nicosia, Nancy, John MacDonald, and Rosalie Pacula (2016). Does Mandatory Diversion to Drug Treatment Eliminate Racial Disparities in the Incarceration of Drug Offenders? An Examination of California’s Proposition 36, Journal of Quantitative Criminology: 10.1007/s10940-016-9293-x

Ridgeway, Greg and John MacDonald (2016). Effect of Rail Transit on Crime: A Study of Los Angeles from 1988-2014, Journal of Quantitative Criminology: 10.1007/s10940-016-9296-7

Han, Seunghoon, Charles Branas, and John MacDonald (2016). The Effect of a Sunday Liquor Sales Ban Repeal on Crime: A Triple Difference Analysis, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 40(5), 111-1121.

Michael Chirico, Robert P Inman, Charles Loeffler, John MacDonald, and Holger Sieg (2016). An Experimental Evaluation of Notification Strategies to Increase Property Tax Compliance: Free-Riding in the City of Brotherly Love, Tax Policy and the Economy, 30(1), 129-161.

MacDonald, John, Jonathan Klick and Ben Grunwald (2015). The Effect of Private Police on Crime: Evidence from a Geographic Regression Discontinuity Design. Journal of Royal Statistical Society, Series A 179(3), 831-846.

MacDonald, John (2015). Community Design and Crime: The Impact of Housing and the Built Environment, Crime and Justice: An Annual Review of Research, 44, 333-384.

Kondo Michelle C., D. Keene, BC Hohl, John M. MacDonald, Charles C. Branas (2015).  A Difference-In-Differences Study of the Effects of a New Abandoned Building Remediation Strategy on Safety, PLoS ONE, 10(7), e0129582.

MacDonald, John, Jeremy Arkes, Nancy Nicosia, and Rosalie Pacula (2014). Decomposing Racial Disparities in Prison and Drug Treatment Commitments for Criminal Offenders in California, Journal of Legal Studies, 43, 151-187.

MacDonald, John, Ameilia Haviland, Rajeev Ramchand, Andrew R. Morral, and Alex Piquero (2014). Linking Specialization and Seriousness in Criminal Careers, Advances in Life Course Research, 20, 43-55.

Ridgeway, Greg and John M. MacDonald (2014). A Method for Internal Benchmarking of Criminal Justice System Performance, Crime and Delinquency, 60, 145-162.

Aaltonen, Mikko, John MacDonald, Pekka Martikainen, and Janne Kivivuori (2013). Examining the Generality of the Unemployment-Crime Association, Criminology, 51, 561-594.

MacDonald, John, Robert Stokes, Ben Grunwald, and Ricky Bluthenthal (2013). The Privatization of Public Safety in Urban Neighborhoods: Do Business Improvement Districts Reduce Violent Crime Among Adolescents?, Law and Society Review, 47, 621-652.

Nicosia, Nancy, John M. MacDonald, and Jeremy Arkes (2013). Disparities in Criminal Court Referrals to Drug Treatment and Prison for Minority Men, American Journal of Public Health, 103, e77-e84.

Anderson, James, John MacDonald, Ricky Bluthenthal, and Scott Ashwood (2013). Reducing Crime by Shaping the Built Environment with Zoning: An Empirical Study of Los Angeles, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 161, 699-756.

MacDonald, John M., John Hipp, and Charlotte Gill (2013). The Effects of Immigrant Concentration on Changes in Neighborhood Crime Rates, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 29, 191-215.

MacDonald, John M., and Jessica Saunders (2012). Are Immigrants Less Violent? Specifying the Reasons and Mechanisms, The ANNALS of the American of Academy of Political and Social Science, 641, 125-147.

Branas, Charles, Rose Cheney, John M. MacDonald, Vicky Tam, Tara Jackson, and Thomas Ten Have (2011). A Difference-in-Differences Analysis of Health, Safety, and Greening Vacant Urban Space, American Journal of Epidemiology, 174, 1296-306

Cook, Philip J., and John MacDonald (2011). Public Safety through Private Action: An Economic Assessment of BIDs, Economic Journal, 121, 445-462.

MacDonald, John M., Robert Stokes, Deborah Cohen, Aaron Kofner, and Greg Ridgeway (2010). The Effect of Light Rail Transit on Body Mass Index and Physical Activity, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 39, 105-112.

MacDonald, John M., Daniela Golinelli, Robert Stokes, and Ricky Bluthenthal (2010).  The Effect of Business Improvement Districts on the Incidence of Violent Crimes, Injury Prevention, 16, 327-332.

Berk, Richard, and John M. MacDonald (2010). Policing the Homeless: An Evaluation of Efforts to Reduce Homeless-Related Crime, Criminology and Public Policy, 9, 813-840.

MacDonald, John M., Robert Stokes, and Ricky Bluthenthal (2010). The Role of Community Context in Business District Revitalization Strategies: Business Improvement Districts in LosAngeles, Public Performance and Management Review, 33, 436-458.


  • <h3>Federal Aviation Administration: Accident & Incident Data</h3><p><img width="100" height="100" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image80 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 3x" data-max-w="550" data-max-h="550"/>The NTSB issues an accident report following each investigation. These reports are available online for reports issued since 1996, with older reports coming online soon. The reports listing is sortable by the event date, report date, city, and state.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.faa.gov/data_research/accident_incident/" target="_blank">http://www.faa.gov/data_research/accident_incident/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Internal Revenue Service: Tax Statistics</h3><p><img width="155" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image486 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg 2x" data-max-w="463" data-max-h="596"/>Find statistics on business tax, individual tax, charitable and exempt organizations, IRS operations and budget, and income (SOI), as well as statistics by form, products, publications, papers, and other IRS data.</p><p> Quick link to <strong>Tax Statistics, where you will find a wide range of tables, articles, and data</strong> that describe and measure elements of the U.S. tax system: <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Stats-2" target="_blank">http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Stats-2</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Congressional Budget Office</h3><p><img width="180" height="180" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/180/380_cbo-logo.rev.1406822035.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image380 lw_align_right" data-max-w="180" data-max-h="180"/>Since its founding in 1974, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has produced independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the Congressional budget process.</p><p> The agency is strictly nonpartisan and conducts objective, impartial analysis, which is evident in each of the dozens of reports and hundreds of cost estimates that its economists and policy analysts produce each year. CBO does not make policy recommendations, and each report and cost estimate discloses the agency’s assumptions and methodologies. <strong>CBO provides budgetary and economic information in a variety of ways and at various points in the legislative process.</strong> Products include baseline budget projections and economic forecasts, analysis of the President’s budget, cost estimates, analysis of federal mandates, working papers, and more.</p><p> Quick link to Products page: <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/about/our-products" target="_blank">http://www.cbo.gov/about/our-products</a></p><p> Quick link to Topics: <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/topics" target="_blank">http://www.cbo.gov/topics</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>USDA Nutrition Assistance Data</h3><p><img width="180" height="124" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image485 lw_align_right" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1233" data-max-h="850"/>Data and research regarding the following <strong>USDA Nutrition Assistance</strong> programs are available through this site:</p><ul><li>Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) </li><li>Food Distribution Programs </li><li>School Meals </li><li>Women, Infants and Children </li></ul><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/data-and-statistics" target="_blank">http://www.fns.usda.gov/data-and-statistics</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>The World Bank Data (U.S.)</h3><p><img width="130" height="118" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image484 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1406" data-max-h="1275"/>The <strong>World Bank</strong> provides World Development Indicators, Surveys, and data on Finances and Climate Change.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states" target="_blank">http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>MapStats</h3><p> A feature of FedStats, MapStats allows users to search for <strong>state, county, city, congressional district, or Federal judicial district data</strong> (demographic, economic, and geographic).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/" target="_blank">http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>National Center for Education Statistics</h3><p><strong><img width="400" height="80" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/400/height/80/479_nces.rev.1407787656.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image479 lw_align_right" data-max-w="400" data-max-h="80"/>The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations.</strong> NCES is located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. NCES has an extensive Statistical Standards Program that consults and advises on methodological and statistical aspects involved in the design, collection, and analysis of data collections in the Center. To learn more about the NCES, <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/about/" target="_blank">click here</a>.</p><p> Quick link to NCES Data Tools: <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/datatools/index.asp?DataToolSectionID=4" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/datatools/index.asp?DataToolSectionID=4</a></p><p> Quick link to Quick Tables and Figures: <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/quicktables/" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/quicktables/</a></p><p> Quick link to NCES Fast Facts (Note: The primary purpose of the Fast Facts website is to provide users with concise information on a range of educational issues, from early childhood to adult learning.): <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/#</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>The Penn World Table</h3><p> The Penn World Table provides purchasing power parity and national income accounts converted to international prices for 189 countries/territories for some or all of the years 1950-2010.</p><p><a href="https://pwt.sas.upenn.edu/php_site/pwt71/pwt71_form.php" target="_blank">Quick link.</a> </p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>National Bureau of Economic Research (Public Use Data Archive)</h3><p><img width="180" height="43" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/43/478_nber.rev.1407530465.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image478 lw_align_right" data-max-w="329" data-max-h="79"/>Founded in 1920, the <strong>National Bureau of Economic Research</strong> is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. The NBER is committed to undertaking and disseminating unbiased economic research among public policymakers, business professionals, and the academic community.</p><p> Quick Link to <strong>Public Use Data Archive</strong>: <a href="http://www.nber.org/data/" target="_blank">http://www.nber.org/data/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>HUD State of the Cities Data Systems</h3><p><strong><img width="200" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image482 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 3x" data-max-w="612" data-max-h="613"/>The SOCDS provides data for individual Metropolitan Areas, Central Cities, and Suburbs.</strong> It is a portal for non-national data made available through a number of outside institutions (e.g. Census, BLS, FBI and others).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/socds.html" target="_blank">http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/socds.html</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED®)</h3><p><strong><img width="180" height="79" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/79/481_fred-logo.rev.1407788243.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image481 lw_align_right" data-max-w="222" data-max-h="97"/>An online database consisting of more than 72,000 economic data time series from 54 national, international, public, and private sources.</strong> FRED®, created and maintained by Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, goes far beyond simply providing data: It combines data with a powerful mix of tools that help the user understand, interact with, display, and disseminate the data.</p><p> Quick link to data page: <a href="http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/tags/series" target="_blank">http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/tags/series</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>NOAA National Climatic Data Center</h3><p><img width="200" height="198" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image483 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 3x" data-max-w="954" data-max-h="945"/>NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is responsible for preserving, monitoring, assessing, and providing public access to the Nation’s treasure of <strong>climate and historical weather data and information</strong>.</p><p> Quick link to home page: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/</a></p><p> Quick link to NCDC’s climate and weather datasets, products, and various web pages and resources: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/quick-links" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/quick-links</a></p><p> Quick link to Text & Map Search: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>