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Universal Cash and Crime

Brett Watson, Mouhcine Guettabi and Matthew Reimer ()
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Brett Watson: University of Alaska Anchorage
Mouhcine Guettabi: University of Alaska Anchorage

The Review of Economics and Statistics, 2020, vol. 102, issue 4, 678-689

Abstract: We estimate the effects of universal cash transfers on crime from Alaska's Permanent Fund Dividend, an annual lump-sum payment to all Alaska residents. We find a 14% increase in substance-abuse incidents the day after the payment and a 10% increase over the following four weeks. This is partially offset by an 8% decrease in property crime, with no changes in violent crimes. On an annual basis, however, changes in criminal activity from the payment are small. Estimated costs comprise a very small portion of the total payment, suggesting that crime-related concerns of a universal cash transfer program may be unwarranted.

Date: 2020
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The Review of Economics and Statistics is currently edited by Amitabh Chandra, Olivier Coibion, Bryan S. Graham, Shachar Kariv, Amit K. Khandelwal, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, Brigitte C. Madrian and Rohini Pande

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