Crime, Transitory Poverty, and Isolation: Evidence from Madagascar
This article investigates the relationship between poverty and crime. Following a disputed presidential election, fuel supply to the highlands of Madagascar was severely curtailed in early 2002, resulting in a massive increase in poverty and transport costs. Using original survey data collected in June 2002 at the height of the crisis, we find that crop theft increases with transitory poverty. Theft thus appears to be used by some of the rural poor as a risk-coping strategy. Increased transport costs led to a rise in cattle and crop theft, confirming earlier findings that in Madagascar geographical isolation is associated with certain forms of crime. We also find that an increase in law enforcement personnel locally reduces cattle theft that in Madagascar is a form of organized crime.
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