Striking at the Roots of Crime: The Impact of Welfare Spending on Crime during the Great Depression
During the Great Depression contemporaries worried that people hit by hard times would resort to crime. President Franklin Roosevelt argued that the massive government 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 1930–40, we estimate the effect of relief spending by all levels of government on crime rates. The analysis suggests that a 10 percent increase in relief spending during the 1930s reduced property crime by roughly 1.5 percent. By limiting the amount of relief recipients’ free time, work relief may have been more effective than direct relief in reducing crime. More generally, our results indicate that social insurance, which tends to be understudied in economic analyses of crime, should be more explicitly and more carefully incorporated into the analysis of temporal and spatial variations in criminal activity.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/655778. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Journals Division)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.