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The effects of the price of food and beer on crime in South Africa

When: Wednesday, 15 August 2018 - Wednesday, 15 August 2018
Where: Braamfontein Campus West
Room 247, New Commerce Building
Start time:12:30

Dr Gareth Roberts from the School of Economic and Business Sciences at Wits will present this talk based on a paper.

South Africa has some of the highest rates of crime in the world, and yet very little is known about the causal determinants of crime in this country. In this paper Roberts  exploits province-level variation in monthly price indices for food and beer and the counts of different types of crime, as well as proxies for the size of the population in the nine provinces. The researchers show that an increase in the nominal price of food relative to the overall consumer price index in South Africa leads to a contemporaneous increase in violent crime, robbery and property theft. In contrast, they find that an increase in the relative price of beer has the opposite effect on crime - particularly for crimes of a sexual nature. This is the first research that demonstrates how the prices of food and beer have an effect on crime in a developing-country context.

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