NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Welfare Payments and Crime

C. Fritz Foley

NBER Working Paper No. 14074
Issued in June 2008
NBER Program(s):   LE   PE

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14074

Published: Fritz Foley. "Welfare Payments and Crime." Review of Economics and Statistics, 93, no. 1 (February 2011): 97-112.

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