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The Effect of Workfare on Crime: Incapacitation and Program Effects

Author

Listed:
  • Fallesen, Peter

    () (Rockwool Foundation Research Unit)

  • Geerdsen, Lars Pico

    () (Kraks Fond)

  • Imai, Susumu

    () (University of Technology, Sydney)

  • Tranæs, Torben

    () (VIVE - The Danish Centre for Applied Social Science)

Abstract

In this paper, we estimate the effect of workfare policy on crime by exploiting two exogenous welfare policy changes in Denmark. Our results show a strong decline in the crime rate among treated unemployment uninsured men relative to untreated uninsured and unemployment insured men, and part of this decline can be identified as a direct effect of workfare participation. Moreover, we find that criminal activity was also reduced during weekends, when the workfare programs were closed, allowing us to distinguishing the pure program effect from the incapacitation effect. These results imply a strong and potentially lasting crime reducing effect of workfare policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Fallesen, Peter & Geerdsen, Lars Pico & Imai, Susumu & Tranæs, Torben, 2014. "The Effect of Workfare on Crime: Incapacitation and Program Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 8716, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8716
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ember, Rudolf, 2001. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 259-283, April.
    2. Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson & David Pozen, 2009. "Building Criminal Capital behind Bars: Peer Effects in Juvenile Corrections," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 105-147.
    3. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1992. "Workfare versus Welfare Incentive Arguments for Work Requirements in Poverty-Alleviation Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 249-261, March.
    4. Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Torben Tranæs, 2005. "Optimal Workfare with Voluntary and Involuntary Unemployment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(3), pages 459-474, September.
    5. 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.
    6. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    7. Stephen Machin & Olivier Marie, 2006. "Crime and benefit sanctions," Portuguese Economic Journal, Springer;Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestao, vol. 5(2), pages 149-165, August.
    8. Denis Fougère & Francis Kramarz & Julien Pouget, 2009. "Youth Unemployment and Crime in France," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 909-938, September.
    9. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    10. 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.
    11. Susumu Imai & Kala Krishna, 2004. "Employment, Deterrence, And Crime In A Dynamic Model," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 845-872, August.
    12. Donohue, John J, III & Siegelman, Peter, 1998. "Allocating Resources among Prisons and Social Programs in the Battle against Crime," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-43, January.
    13. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1995. "The Design of Income Maintenance Programmes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(2), pages 187-221.
    14. Anna Öster & Jonas Agell, 2007. "Crime and Unemployment in Turbulent Times," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(4), pages 752-775, June.
    15. Dan A. Black & Jeffrey A. Smith & Mark C. Berger & Brett J. Noel, 2003. "Is the Threat of Reemployment Services More Effective Than the Services Themselves? Evidence from Random Assignment in the UI System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1313-1327, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wildeman, Christopher & Fallesen, Peter, 2017. "The effect of lowering welfare payment ceilings on children's risk of out-of-home placement," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 82-90.
    2. Torben Tranaes, 2015. "Active labor market policies and crime," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 185-185, September.
    3. repec:iza:izawol:journl:y:2015:p:185 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Bratsberg, Bernt & Hernaes, Øystein & Markussen, Simen & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Røed, Knut, 2018. "Welfare Activation and Youth Crime," IZA Discussion Papers 11719, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    crime reduction; difference-in-differences; policy experiment; secondary effects; workfare policy; workfare and crime; unemployment and crime;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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