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Effects of Welfare Reform on Women's Crime

  • Hope Corman
  • Dhaval M. Dave
  • Nancy E. Reichman

We investigate the effects of broad-based work incentives on female crime by exploiting the welfare reform legislation of the 1990s, which dramatically increased employment among women at risk for relying on cash assistance. We find that welfare reform decreased female property crime arrests by 4-5%, but did not affect other types of crimes. The effects appear to be stronger in states with lower welfare benefits and higher earnings disregards, and in states with larger caseload declines. The findings point to broad-based work incentives--and, by inference, employment--as a key determinant of female property crime.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18887.

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Date of creation: Mar 2013
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Publication status: published as Corman, Hope & Dave, Dhaval M. & Reichman, Nancy E., 2014. "Effects of welfare reform on women's crime," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 1-14.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18887
Note: CH HC HE LE LS
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  1. Bruce D. Meyer, 2002. "Labor Supply at the Extensive and Intensive Margins: The EITC, Welfare, and Hours Worked," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 373-379, May.
  2. Price V. Fishback & Ryan S. Johnson & Shawn Kantor, 2010. "Striking at the Roots of Crime: The Impact of Welfare Spending on Crime during the Great Depression," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(4), pages 715 - 740.
  3. Bartel, Ann P, 1979. "Women and Crime: An Economic Analysis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(1), pages 29-51, January.
  4. Ming-Jen Lin, 2008. "Does Unemployment Increase Crime?: Evidence from U.S. Data 1974–2000," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(2), pages 413-436.
  5. V. Joseph Hotz & John Karl Scholz, 2001. "The Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Working Papers 8078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Schoeni, R.F. & Blank, R.M., 2000. "What Has Welfare Reform Accomplished? Impacts on Welfare Participation, Employment, Income, Poverty, and Family Structure," Papers 00-02, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  7. Meyer, Bruce D. & Sullivan, James X., 2004. "The effects of welfare and tax reform: the material well-being of single mothers in the 1980s and 1990s," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1387-1420, July.
  8. Hope Corman & Dhaval M. Dave & Nancy E. Reichman & Dhiman Das, 2010. "Effects of Welfare Reform on Illicit Drug Use of Adult Women," NBER Working Papers 16072, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jeff Grogger, 2000. "Time Limits and Welfare Use," NBER Working Papers 7709, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Dhaval Dave & Hope Corman & Nancy Reichman, 2012. "Effects of Welfare Reform on Education Acquisition of Adult Women," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 251-282, June.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Nada Eissa & Hilary Hoynes, 2005. "Behavioral Responses to Taxes: Lessons from the EITC and Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 11729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Hope Corman & Naci Mocan, 2002. "Carrots, Sticks and Broken Windows," NBER Working Papers 9061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Ihlanfeldt, Keith R, 2006. "Neighborhood Crime and Young Males' Job Opportunity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(1), pages 249-83, April.
  17. Sara Mclanahan, 2004. "Diverging destinies: How children are faring under the second demographic transition," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(4), pages 607-627, November.
  18. 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.
  19. Karin Edmark, 2005. "Unemployment and Crime: Is There a Connection?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(2), pages 353-373, 06.
  20. 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.
  21. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," NBER Working Papers 8983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Thomas DeLeire & Judith A. Levine & Helen Levy, 2006. "Is Welfare Reform Responsible for Low-Skilled Women’s Declining Health Insurance Coverage in the 1990s?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(3).
  23. 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 259-83, April.
  24. Signe-Mary McKernan & Robert I. Lerman & Nancy Pindus & Jesse Valente, 2000. "The Relationship between Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Locations, Changing Welfare Policies, and the Employment of Single Mothers," JCPR Working Papers 192, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  25. Llad Phillips & Harold L. Votey, Jr., 1987. "Women's Changing Involvement with Crime: A Labor Force Participation Perspective," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 233-242, Jul-Sep.
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