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ANALYZING THE IMPACT OF THE WORLD'S LARGEST PUBLIC WORKS PROJECT ON CRIME

Satadru Das and Naci Mocan

Economic Inquiry, 2020, vol. 58, issue 3, 1167-1182

Abstract: India started the implementation of a rural public works program in 2006, covering all districts of the country within 3 years. The program guarantees 100 days of employment per year at minimum wage to each rural household, with the goal of reducing joblessness and poverty. We exploit the design and implementation of this program to investigate its employment impact on various types of crimes to provide rare evidence on the employment–crime relationship in a developing country context. We find that employment generated by the program has a negative impact on both property crime and violent crime. The same conclusion is reached when we analyze the impact of the program using its staggered rollout structure as the source of identification in a difference‐in‐difference analysis. Although crime elasticities with respect to employment are small, this finding represents another dimension of the social benefit generated by the program. (JEL K4, E24, H54)

Date: 2020
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