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Welfare Payments and Crime

C. Fritz Foley

Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

June 4, 2009

Analysis of daily reported incidents of major crimes in twelve U.S. cities reveals an increase in crime over the course of monthly welfare payment cycles. This increase reflects an increase in crimes that are likely to have a direct financial motivation like burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and robbery, as opposed to other kinds of crime like arson, assault, homicide, and rape. Temporal patterns in crime are observed in jurisdictions in which disbursements are focused at the beginning of monthly welfare payment cycles and not in jurisdictions in which disbursements are relatively more staggered. These findings indicate that welfare beneficiaries consume welfare related income quickly and then attempt to supplement it with criminal income.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 46

Keywords: welfare, crime, household finance, behavioral economics

JEL Classification: K42, D12, I38

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Date posted: February 5, 2008 ; Last revised: June 7, 2009

Suggested Citation

Foley, C. Fritz, Welfare Payments and Crime (June 4, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1089576 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1089576

Contact Information

C. Fritz Foley (Contact Author)
Harvard Business School ( email )
Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6375 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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