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Policy: Entitlements

EBT cards, as well as welfare reform, cut crime

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Crime,Michael Barone,Entitlements,Welfare

In a Washington Examiner column earlier this month, I suggested that welfare reform may have had the incidental and beneficial effect of cutting crime -- and be responsible for part of the astonishing decline of violent crime over the last 20 years. Now I see, thanks to Ben Domenech's "The Transom," that there is a National Bureau of Economic Research paper arguing that the provision of welfare benefits through Electronic Benefit Transfer (i.e., debit cards) in the 1990s produced a decline in crime. The authors deduced this from a study of welfare and crime rates in counties in Missouri, a state with two large central cities, quite a few suburbs and many rural counties. Evidently robbers prefer cash to debit cards.

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Michael Barone

Senior Political Analyst
The Washington Examiner