Striking at the Roots of Crime: The Impact of Social Welfare Spending on Crime During the Great Depression
The Great Depression of the 1930s led contemporaries to worry that people hit by hard times would turn to crime in their efforts to survive. Franklin Roosevelt argued that the unprecedented and massive expansion in relief efforts "struck at the roots of crime" by providing subsistence income to needy families. After constructing a panel data set for 81 large American cities for the years 1930 through 1940, we estimate the impact of relief spending by all levels of government on crime rates. The analysis suggests that a ten percent increase in relief spending during the 1930s lowered property crime by roughly 1.5 percent. By limiting the amount of free time for relief recipients, work relief was more effective than direct relief in reducing crime. More generally, our results indicate that social insurance, which tends to be understudied in economic analyses of crime, should be more explicitly and more carefully incorporated into the analysis of temporal and spatial variations in criminal activity.
|Date of creation:||Jan 2007|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as “Striking at the Roots of Crime: The Impact of Social Welfare Spending on Crime During the Great Depression” (with Price V. Fishback and Ryan S. Johnson). Journal of Law & Economics Vol. 53, No. 4, pp. 715-740. November 2010.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Wallis, John Joseph & Benjamin, Daniel K., 1981. "Public Relief and Private Employment in the Great Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(01), pages 97-102, March.
- Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2004.
"The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 155-189, March.
- Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2001. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," NBER Working Papers 8605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Price V. Fishback & Michael R. Haines & Shawn Kantor, 2005.
"Births, Deaths, and New Deal Relief during the Great Depression,"
NBER Working Papers
11246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Price V. Fishback & Michael R. Haines & Shawn Kantor, 2007. "Births, Deaths, and New Deal Relief during the Great Depression," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 1-14, February.
- Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2004.
"New Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression: A General Equilibrium Analysis,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 779-816, August.
- Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2001. "New Deal policies and the persistence of the Great Depression: a general equilibrium analysis," Working Papers 597, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Gary S. Becker, 1974.
"Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach,"
in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Hansen, Kirstine & Machin, Stephen, 2002.
" Spatial Crime Patterns and the Introduction of the UK Minimum Wage,"
Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics,
Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 64(0), pages 677-97, Supplemen.
- Kirstine Hansen & Stephen Machin, 2002. "Spatial Crime Patterns and the Introduction of the UK Minimum Wage," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 64(s1), pages 677-697, 08.
- Donohue, John J. & Levitt, Steven D., 2000.
"The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime,"
Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series
qt00p599hk, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
- Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 2004.
"Crime and Economic Incentives,"
Journal of Human Resources,
University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
- Ann Dryden Witte & Robert Witt, 2001. "What we spend and what we get: Public and private provision of crime prevention and criminal justice," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 22(1), pages 1-40, March.
- Raphael, Steven & WINTER-EBMER, RUDOLF, 1998.
"Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime,"
University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series
qt5hb4h56g, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
- Fleck, Robert K., 1999. "The Marginal Effect of New Deal Relief Work on County-Level Unemployment Statistics," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(03), pages 659-687, September.
- Grogger, Jeff, 1998.
"Market Wages and Youth Crime,"
Journal of Labor Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 756-91, October.
- John J. Wallis & Price V. Fishback & Shawn E. Kantor, 2006. "Politics, Relief, and Reform. Roosevelt's Efforts to Control Corruption and Political Manipulation during the New Deal," NBER Chapters, in: Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History, pages 343-372 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Hausman, Jerry A., 1983. "Specification and estimation of simultaneous equation models," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 391-448 Elsevier.
- 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.
- Karin Edmark, 2005. "Unemployment and Crime: Is There a Connection?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(2), pages 353-373, 06.
- Levitt, Steven D, 1997.
"Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-90, June.
- Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Policeon Crime," NBER Working Papers 4991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Wallis, John Joseph, 1989. "Employment in the Great Depression: New data and hypotheses," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 45-72, January.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12825. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.