Welfare Payments and Crime

44 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2008 Last revised: 17 Jun 2022

See all articles by C. Fritz Foley

C. Fritz Foley

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

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Date Written: June 2008


This paper tests the hypothesis that the timing of welfare payments affects criminal activity. 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.

Suggested Citation

Foley, C. Fritz, Welfare Payments and Crime (June 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14074, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1143985

C. Fritz Foley (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

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