The adoption of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards for distributing public assistance may have encouraged a decrease in street crime, according to a new Georgia State University and University of Missouri study.
Researchers examined whether a reduction in the circulation of cash on Missouri streets, after the 1990s implementation of EBT, had an effect on crime. Counties in the state began transitioning from checks to cards at varying times, which allowed researchers to more accurately chart how EBT impacted specific areas.
“According to our point estimates, the overall crime rate decreased by 9.8 percent in response to the EBT program,” researchers wrote.
They found that the EBT program had a “significant effect” on burglary, assault, and larceny rates, as well as non-drug arrest rates.
“Interestingly, the significant drop in crime in the United States over several decades has coincided with a period of steady decline in the proportion of financial transactions involving cash,” researchers wrote.
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