NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Ryan Johnson

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only

Working Papers

January 2007Striking at the Roots of Crime: The Impact of Social Welfare Spending on Crime During the Great Depression
with Shawn Kantor, Price V. Fishback: w12825
The Great Depression of the 1930s led contemporaries to worry that people hit by hard times would turn to crime in their efforts to survive. Franklin Roosevelt argued that the unprecedented and massive expansion in relief efforts “struck at the roots of crime” by providing subsistence income to needy families. After constructing a panel data set for 81 large American cities for the years 1930 through 1940, we estimate the impact of relief spending by all levels of government on crime rates. The analysis suggests that a ten percent increase in relief spending during the 1930s lowered property crime by roughly 1.5 percent. By limiting the amount of free time for relief recipients, work relief was more effective than direct relief in reducing crime. More generally, our results indicate that s...

Published: “Striking at the Roots of Crime: The Impact of Social Welfare Spending on Crime During the Great Depression” (with Price V. Fishback and Ryan S. Johnson). Journal of Law & Economics Vol. 53, No. 4, pp. 715-740. November 2010.

November 2005"The War for the Fare": How Driver Compensation Affects Bus System Performance
with David H. Reiley, Juan Carlos Munoz: w11744
Two systems of bus driver compensation exist in Santiago, Chile. Most drivers are paid per passenger transported, while a second system compensates other drivers with a fixed wage. Compared with fixed-wage drivers, per-passenger drivers have incentives to engage in "La Guerra por el Boleto" ("The War for the Fare"), in which drivers change their driving patterns to compete for passengers. This paper takes advantage of a natural experiment provided by the coexistence of these two compensation schemes on similar routes in the same city. Using data on intervals between bus arrivals, we find that the fixed-wage contract leads to more bunching of buses, and hence longer average passenger wait times. The per-passenger drivers are assisted by a group of independent information intermediaries call...

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