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Does poverty relief spending reduce crime? Evidence from Argentina

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  • Meloni, Osvaldo

Abstract

A large body of empirical research suggests that welfare spending reduces crime. Contrary to this dominant finding, a few recent studies conclude that there is no relationship between several measures of welfare spending and serious crime. This paper contributes to the debate using data from the largest poverty alleviation program launched by the Argentinean government to cope with the deleterious effects of the 2002 crisis featuring double-digit unemployment and half of the population below the poverty line. Province –level dynamic panel data reveals that the cash transfers program had a negative impact total crime although the effect was rather weak. The analyses of various types of crime show that the influence of the Argentine poverty relief spending was greater in Property Crimes than Crime against Persons, with the highest effect on larceny.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 40176.

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Date of creation: 19 Jul 2012
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:40176

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Keywords: Crime; Welfare Spending; Dynamic Panel Data; Argentina;

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  1. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  2. Choe, Jongmook, 2008. "Income inequality and crime in the United States," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 31-33, October.
  3. Price V. Fishback & Ryan S. Johnson & Shawn Kantor, 2010. "Striking at the Roots of Crime: The Impact of Welfare Spending on Crime during the Great Depression," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(4), pages 715 - 740.
  4. Ana María Cerro & Osvaldo Meloni, 2000. "Determinants of the crime rate in Argentina during the '90s," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 27(2 Year 20), pages 297-311, December.
  5. Meloni, Osvaldo, 2012. "Is there an electoral-motivated crime rate cycle? Evidence from Argentina," MPRA Paper 40177, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Daniel Kostzer, 2008. ""Argentina--A Case Study on the Plan Jefes y Jefas de Hogar Desocupados, or the Employment Road to Economic Recovery," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_534, Levy Economics Institute.
  7. Yearwood, Douglas L. & Koinis, Gerry, 2009. "Revisting Property Crime and Economic Conditions: An Exploratory Study to Identify Predictive Indicators beyond Unemployment Rates," MPRA Paper 16834, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Zhang, Junsen, 1997. "The Effect of Welfare Programs on Criminal Behavior: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(1), pages 120-37, January.
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