Does Welfare Cause Crime?

Repost from the old site.

In the comments, Uncle Milton says:

I have spent extensive time in third world countries. In general I found them much safer than the inner cities of the US which are filled with people who collect checks from the government and still feel strongly they are owned something and will take it out on each and anyone wandering into their midst.


The notion that “welfare causes crime” is very problematic. I don’t believe that the folks pushing this argument have ever proved their case. In Europe, there is a good model backed up with many studies that shows that the more socialism you have in the system, the less crime you have.

The more capitalism, the more crime. This is proven in the transition from socialism to capitalism in the FSU, Eastern Europe and China which were followed by tremendous crime waves.

If you cut all those folks in the ghetto off of all the welfare, would they be any less criminal?

There doesn’t seem to be any theoretical model for why welfare would cause crime. Why would giving someone stuff turn him into a criminal? According to Uncle Milton, it is because they “feel they are owed something.”

But aren’t people owed something under Communism? Basic needs were provided for everyone. Perhaps Communism was the ultimate welfare state. At least this is what conservatives say. How then did Communist states have the lowest levels of crime around?

Furthermore, I would point out that the 3rd World equivalent of our ghettos are often vastly more dangerous that US ghettos. I worked in the ghettos and barrios of Los Angeles for years and I lost one car battery in East LA and I had the wires cut on another car battery in Watts. Of course, I was usually out of there before dark.

I lived in Oakhurst, a town in the Sierra Nevada, for 16 years. I don’t know the figures, but word is that the welfare use rate was very high the whole time I was there. Girls got pregnant as soon as they got out of high school (18-20 or so) and the guy may or may not be around.

Many just became single Moms for various periods of time. I suppose there were guys floating in and out of their lives, but that’s how it goes with single Moms in general. In my apartment complex, there were two single Moms out of six tenants.

The guys support the kids in some cases and marry them in others, but in quite a few cases, they don’t marry the woman, and in other cases, they do not support them either.

Although the rate of this sort of thing among the Amerindians in town is insanely high, I would like to focus on the Whites. There is a very high rate of welfare use among Whites in this town. This includes all kinds of welfare – food stamps, Medicaid, welfare proper, etc. There was very little crime in this town.

The crime rate was so low that I often did not lock my car at home and often left the house without locking the door. I did that for years with no break-ins. Violent crime was nearly nonexistent. Gangs did not exist, and juvenile crime did not seem to be significant from my POV.

I had heard that it took a long time for a welfare culture to develop as kids come of age and become pathological due to being raised in a welfare family. I watched this scene for 16 years and no welfare culture develop. I assume that was enough time.

It’s an interesting question why high welfare use seems to be associated with mass pathology in some groups (Hispanics and Blacks) but not in others (Asians and Whites). Even in Oakhurst, relatively high levels of pathology coincided with extremely high welfare use among Amerindians. Nevertheless, with Amerindians about

So much for welfare causes crime.

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One thought on “Does Welfare Cause Crime?”

  1. I’m not really sympathetic to welfare causing crime in any big way. Compared to conspicuous gaps in wealth and poverty it just seems like a totally weak parameter. But I am sympathetic to the idea that it takes away pride in actually being responsible for your own life (even if that pride is just a lie) and I do reckon that this has corrosive social effects. Moreover I reckon Whites are probably hit worse in this than Blacks and Asians, as they come from cultures (and have evolved personalities) where productivity (unlike Blacks) and individualism (unlike Asians) are lionised.

    White men pride themselves on being their own man and on making both things and their destinies with their own two hands. Black men pride themselves on how charming and socially winning they are, how impressive they are in tests of athleticism and performance and generally don’t care if they’ve made stuff or if they are basically parasites (why sweat that stuff?). Asian men pride themselves on making stuff and being responsible but really don’t really care that much if they don’t so long as they are appropriate members of their wider society.

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