Welfare Cuts and Crime: Evidence from the New Poor Law
Eric Melander and
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Eric Melander: University of Namur and CAGE
Martina Miotto: CERGE-EI and CAGE
CAGE Online Working Paper Series from Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE)
The New Poor Law reform of 1834 induced dramatic and heterogeneous reductions in welfare spending across English and Welsh counties. Using the reform in a difference-in-differences instrumental variables strategy, we document a robust negative relationship between the generosity of welfare provision and criminal activity. Results are driven by non-violent property crimes and are stronger during months of seasonal agricultural unemployment, indicating that a combination of welfare cuts and precarious work opportunities lowered the opportunity cost of crime for economically vulnerable individuals. We use data on county police forces and individual-level criminal records to rule out alternative mechanisms related to changes in policing and sentencing.
Keywords: welfare spending; austerity; crime; poor laws JEL Classification: H53; I38; K42; N33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his, nep-law and nep-ure
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:cge:wacage:548
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