December 2014

IZA DP No. 8716: The Effect of Workfare on Crime: Incapacitation and Program Effects

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.