ISER Publication - Universal Cash and Crime

ID: 1741

Brett Watson, look up Mouhcine GuettabiMouhcine Guettabi, look up Matthew ReimerMatthew Reimer

2019-01-29

Article Or Book, 46pp.

Forthcoming in the Review of Economics and Statistics

We estimate the effects of universal cash transfers on crime from Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend, an annual lump-sum payment to all Alaska residents. We find a 14% increase in substance-abuse incidents the day after the payment and a 10% increase over the following four weeks. This is partially offset by a 8% decrease in property crime, with no changes in violent crimes. On an annual basis, however, changes in criminal activity from the payment are small. Estimated costs comprise a very small portion of the total payment, suggesting that crime-related concerns of a universal cash transfer program may be unwarranted.

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