The externalities of Conditional Cash Transfer programs on crime: the case of Bogota's "Familias en Acción" program

Available from: 
October 2013
Paper author(s): 
Adriana Camacho (Universidad de los Andes)
Daniel Mejia (Universidad de los Andes)
Conflict, Crime and Violence

This paper examines the indirect effects of Colombia’s most important Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program on the levels of criminality in the urban area of the city of Bogota. The following two sources of information were combined to carry out this study: the Sistema de Información de Beneficiarios de Familias en Acción (SIFA) and the National Police crime reports. This study evaluates two possible channels through which Familias en Acción might affect the levels of crime. On the one hand there is an “income effect,” for which the existing variation in the date when program payments are made is exploited. The results herein indicate that, through this effect, the program is responsible for reducing crime against property. Specifically, the authors find that transfers made by the program reduce the rate of theft from persons and vehicle theft by 7.2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively, during the days following the transfers made by Familias en Acción. The authors also examine whether the conditionality of school attendance as a requirement for obtaining the program subsidies offered “incapacitates “ (i.e., impedes) youngsters from engaging in criminal activities. To measure this effect, the authors looked at the public school vacation calendar, as well as the dates of the stoppages called by the main education sector trade union, FECODE. The results indicate that the Familias en Acción program has no impact on crime levels through the so-called “incapacitation effect.” Overall, this paper reveals that whereas the transfers made by the program do reduce crime through the income effect, the incapacitation effect does not seem to operate.


Go back to the Conference Menu Page

Research section: 
Lacea 2013 annual meeting
Share this