NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Volkan Topalli

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Working Papers

March 2014Less Cash, Less Crime: Evidence from the Electronic Benefit Transfer Program
with Richard Wright, Erdal Tekin, Chandler McClellan, Timothy Dickinson, Richard Rosenfeld: w19996
It has been long recognized that cash plays a critical role in fueling street crime due to its liquidity and transactional anonymity. In poor neighborhoods where street offenses are concentrated, a significant source of circulating cash stems from public assistance or welfare payments. In the 1990s, the Federal government mandated individual states to convert the delivery of their welfare benefits from paper checks to an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system, whereby recipients received and expended their funds through debit cards. In this paper, we examine whether the reduction in the circulation of cash on the streets associated with EBT implementation had an effect on crime. To address this question, we exploit the variation in the timing of the EBT implementation across Missouri cou...
August 2008"Might Not Be a Tomorrow": A Multi-Methods Approach to Anticipated Early Death and Youth Crime
with Timothy Brezina, Erdal Tekin: w14279
A number of researchers point to the anticipation of early death, or a sense of "futurelessness," as a contributing factor to youth crime and violence. Young people who perceive a high probability of early death, it is argued, may have little reason to delay gratification for the promise of future benefits, as the future itself is discounted. Consequently, these young people tend to pursue high-risk behaviors associated with immediate rewards, including crime and violence. Although existing studies lend empirical support to these arguments and show a statistical relationship between anticipated early death and youth crime, this support remains tentative. Moreover, a number of questions remain regarding the interpretation of this relationship, the meanings that offenders attach to the p...

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