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The Effect of Welfare Programs on Criminal Behavior: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis

Junsen Zhang

Economic Inquiry, 1997, vol. 35, issue 1, 120-37

Abstract: A simple economic model of criminal behavior shows that welfare payments will reduce the time allocated to illegal activities under risk aversion and other reasonable assumptions. This theoretical prediction is confirmed by the empirical findings: using a set of cross-sectional U.S. state data for 1987, it is found that cash or in-kind welfare programs have a negative and often significant effect on property crime. More general programs, such as public housing, seem to have a larger effect than those aimed primarily at women (AFDC). Medicaid and school lunch programs apparently have little effect on property crime. Copyright 1997 by Oxford University Press.

Date: 1997
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