Distributive Politics and Crime

48 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2019

See all articles by Masataka Harada

Masataka Harada

Fukuoka University - Faculty of Economics

Daniel M. Smith

Harvard University - Department of Government

Date Written: May 23, 2019


Redistribution from central to local governments through fiscal transfers has the potential to reduce crime in local areas by alleviating poverty and unemployment. However, estimating the causal effect of redistribution on crime is complicated by the problem of simultaneity: increased transfers may be targeted precisely where crime is a problem. To address this problem, we use change in malapportionment as an instrumental variable, as malapportionment has a well-known relationship with redistribution. Our research design takes advantage of municipality-level panel data from Japan spanning a major electoral system reform that reduced the level of malapportionment across districts. Naïve estimates with OLS regression show almost no effect of fiscal transfers on crime, whereas the IV results show statistically significant and negative effects. These findings support the argument that redistribution reduces crime, while also raising broader implications about the relationship between Japan’s well-known pattern of distributive politics and its comparatively low crime rates.

Keywords: distributive politics, crime, malapportionment, instrumental variable, Japan

JEL Classification: C26, D72, D78, H2, H23, H5, H7

Suggested Citation

Harada, Masataka and Smith, Daniel M., Distributive Politics and Crime (May 23, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3392733 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3392733

Masataka Harada

Fukuoka University - Faculty of Economics

19-1, Nanakuma 8-Chome
Jonan-ku, Fukuoka, Fukuoka 8140180

Daniel M. Smith (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/danielmarkhamsmith

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics