Crime and benefit sanctions
In this paper we look at the relationship between crime and economic incentives in a different way to other work in this area. We look at changes in unemployment benefits and the imposition of benefit sanctions as a means of studying the way that people on the margins of crime may react to economic incentives. The paper relies on a quasiexperimental setting induced by the introduction of the Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) in the UK in October 1996. We look at crime rates in areas more and less affected by the policy change before and after JSA introduction. In the areas more affected by the tougher benefit regime crime rose by more. These were also the areas with higher outflows from unemployment and particularly to people dropping off the register but not into work, education/training or onto other benefits. Areas that had more sanctioned individuals also experienced higher crime rates after the introduction of JSA. As such the benefit cuts and sanctions embodied in the JSA appear to have induced individuals previously on the margins to engage in crime. Thus there appears to have been an unintended policy consequence, associated with the benefit reform, namely higher crime.
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