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Exploring the link between cash and crime: Informing policy through an analysis of the effect of electronic benefit transfer cards on crime using UCR, ARS, and TEDS data.

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $77,615)

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) Graduate Research Fellowship Program
provides awards to accredited universities for doctoral student research that uses criminal justice data or statistical series and focuses on crime, violence, and other criminal justice-related topics.

BJS invests in doctoral education by supporting universities that sponsor students who demonstrate the potential to complete doctoral degree programs successfully in disciplines relevant to the mission of BJS, and who are in the final stages of graduate study.

The ultimate goal of the program is to increase the pool of researchers using criminal justice statistical data generated by BJS, thereby contributing solutions that better prevent and control crime and help ensure the fair and impartial administration of criminal justice in the United States.

Under this award, BJS is funding the dissertation research proposed by Georgia State University on behalf of Donald E. Hunt entitled, "Exploring the link between cash and crime: Informing policy through an analysis of the effect of electronic benefit transfer cards on crime using UCR, ARS, and TEDS data."

Research has demonstrated that residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods experience high crime rates. Many of those residents depend on government assistance which, until 1997, was delivered via paper checks that had to be cashed. This made recipients vulnerable to crimes like robbery. Beginning in 1997, the government replaced checks with electronic benefit transfer (EBT) payment cards. This removed significant amounts of cash from the streets. Cash is critical to black-market participation especially drug use. It has also been suggested that moving from checks to EBT lowered rates of predatory street crime, much of which is committed to sustain illicit activities.

The proposed research will examine the relationship between cash and street crime. It will explore the influence removing cash from disadvantaged neighborhoods via EBT has had on:

1) UCR Part I crimes including robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, larceny-theft analyzed in previous research;

2) UCR Part II crimes not included in previous research including fraud, simple assault; and

3) drug offense data in the UCR via the ARS subset as well as SAMSHA-TEDS data.

The study is intended to confirm results of previous research and expand on them by determining the causal influence of drugs on the relationship between cash and crime. In stage 1, the study will utilize a fixed effects difference-in-difference method whereby the changes in crime rates are compared both between and within counties receiving the EBT program. The Stage 2 analysis will employ difference-in-difference calculations but may also include least squares regression models with a mediator component.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.


Date Created: September 30, 2015