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How Do Changes in Welfare Law Affect Domestic Violence? An Analysis of Connecticut Towns, 1990–2000

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  • Jennifer Nou
  • Christopher Timmins

Abstract

The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act transformed welfare from an ongoing cash assistance program by restricting participation through time limits and emphasizing rapid entrance into the labor force. Changes in welfare dependency induced by these legal reforms had the potential to impact rates of domestic violence. Using decennial census, welfare caseload, and police report data, this paper investigates the introduction of time limits and work mandates across Connecticut towns. For a variety of reasons, Connecticut proves to be an ideal laboratory from which to obtain evidence. We find that rates of domestic violence fell in Connecticut with the passage of the new welfare law, especially in towns most subject to the law’s provisions. Using Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Report data, we also find evidence that such results hold independent of the reform’s effects on other personal crimes and crimes in general.

Suggested Citation

  • Jennifer Nou & Christopher Timmins, 2005. "How Do Changes in Welfare Law Affect Domestic Violence? An Analysis of Connecticut Towns, 1990–2000," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(2), pages 445-470, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:34:y:2005:p:445-470
    DOI: 10.1086/429847
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Steven D. Levitt, 1996. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence from Prison Overcrowding Litigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 319-351.
    2. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 379-420.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anna Aizer, 2010. "The Gender Wage Gap and Domestic Violence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1847-1859, September.

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