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Crime and benefit sanctions

  • Stephen Machin
  • Olivier Marie

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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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/19945/
File Function: Open access version.
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 19945.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19945
Contact details of provider: Postal: LSE Library Portugal Street London, WC2A 2HD, U.K.
Phone: +44 (020) 7405 7686
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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  1. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
  2. David Card, 1992. "Using Regional Variation in Wages to Measure the Effects of the Federal Minimum Wage," Working Papers 680, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning & Lupin Rahman, 2002. "Where the Minimum Wage Bites Hard: the Introduction of the UK National Minimum Wage to a Low Wage Sector," CEP Discussion Papers dp0544, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  5. Steve Machin & Costas Meghir, 2000. "Crime and economic incentives," IFS Working Papers W00/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  6. Jeff Grogger, 1997. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," NBER Working Papers 5983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
  8. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning, 1998. "The causes and consequences of long-term unemployment in Europe," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20255, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  9. Machin, Stephen & Alan Manning & Lupin Rahman, 2003. "Where Minimum Wage Bites Hard: The Introduction of the UK National Minimum Wage to a Low Wage Sector," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 145, Royal Economic Society.
  10. Freeman, Richard B., 1999. "The economics of crime," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 52, pages 3529-3571 Elsevier.
  11. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
  12. Atkinson, Anthony B & Micklewright, John, 1991. "Unemployment Compensation and Labor Market Transitions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1679-1727, December.
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