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Spillovers from Conditional Cash Transfer Programs: Bolsa Família and Crime in Urban Brazil

  • Chioda, Laura

    ()

    (World Bank)

  • de Mello, João M. P.

    ()

    (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio))

  • Soares, Rodrigo R.

    ()

    (Sao Paulo School of Economics)

This paper investigates the impact of Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programs on crime. Making use of a unique dataset combining detailed school characteristics with time and geo-referenced crime information from the city of São Paulo, Brazil, we estimate the contemporaneous effect of the Bolsa Família program on crime. We address the endogeneity of CCT coverage by exploiting the 2008 expansion of the program to adolescents aged 16 and 17. We construct an instrument that combines the timing of expansion and the initial demographic composition of schools to identify plausibly exogenous variations in the number of children covered by Bolsa Família. We find a robust and significant negative impact of Bolsa Família coverage on crime. The evidence suggests that the main effect works through increased household income or changed peer group, rather than from incapacitation from time spent in school.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6371.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: forthcoming in: Economics of Education Review, 2015
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6371
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  1. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2003. "Are Idle Hands the Devil's Workshop? Incapacitation, Concentration, and Juvenile Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1560-1577, December.
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  9. Steven D. Levitt & Lance Lochner, 2001. "The Determinants of Juvenile Crime," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 327-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. Rodrigo R. Soares & Joana Naritomi, 2010. "Understanding High Crime Rates in Latin America: The Role of Social and Policy Factors," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America, pages 19-55 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "Inequality and Violent Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 1-40, April.
  15. Zhang, Junsen, 1997. "The Effect of Welfare Programs on Criminal Behavior: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(1), pages 120-37, January.
  16. C. Fritz Foley, 2008. "Welfare Payments and Crime," NBER Working Papers 14074, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Soares, Rodrigo R., 2004. "Development, crime and punishment: accounting for the international differences in crime rates," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 155-184, February.
  18. François Bourguignon & Jairo Nuñez & Fabio Sanchez, 2003. "A Structural Model of Crime and Inequality in Colombia," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 440-449, 04/05.
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