Economics Research Seminar | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Economics Research Seminar

Does Welfare Prevent Crime? The Criminal Justice Outcomes of Youth Removed from SSI

We present the first estimates of the effect of U.S. cash welfare benefits in childhood and young adulthood on long-term criminal outcomes, which may be predictive of future economic outcomes. To identify this effect, we use the regression discontinuity (RD) designs from Deshpande (2016a,b) that exploit variation in whether children and 18-year-olds were removed from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. We merge Social Security Administration records with records from the Criminal Justice Administrative Records System to measure the criminal outcomes of SSI youth in adulthood. Removing 18-year-olds from SSI nearly doubles their likelihood of being incarcerated by age 25, from 6.3pp to 11pp. These increases in incarceration are driven by higher contacts with the criminal justice system: a 30% increase in all charges, 60\% increase in property crime charges, 30% increase in felony charges, and 50\% increase in disorderly conduct charges. Removing younger children (ages 3-12) from SSI has even larger effects on their likelihood of offending and incarceration in young adulthood, especially among children from single-parent households.

Please join the Economics Department for a research seminar.  This event is open to all Case Western Reserve University  faculty, Ph.D. students, economic majors and minors, and those interested in economics research.  Contact Teresa Kabat at or 216.368.4110 for additional information.

ID: 92069267819
Passcode: n888EVNH
Passcode: 40180271
Passcode: 40180271


Friday, Sep. 17, 2021 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Peter B. Lewis Building
11119 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, OH 44106-7235
United States
Speaker(s): Mike Mueller-Smith, University of Michgan
Sponsored by: Economics Department


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