Project Description

The effect of basic income on crime in Alaska

Since 1982, Alaska’s Permanent Fund has provided an annual dividend to all state residents.  As such, it is the world’s longest-running example of a basic income. Initially universal, from 1989 onwards eligibility was withdrawn from an increasing proportion of those in prison. This provides an opportunity to assess the effect of a basic income on crime, and how this changes once conditionality is introduced.  Two evaluation approaches are used, the synthetic control approach and Bayesian structural time series.  Neither approach can detect a significant effect on crime, either before or after the change to eligibility. Despite this, the results provide evidence that the size of the payment is relevant, with larger amounts significantly reducing property crime. Furthermore, it is the payment itself that causes this reduction rather than the change to the rules governing eligibility. The results demonstrate the potential for a basic income to encourage positive outcomes and lend support to payment being universal rather than conditional.


Dorsett, R. Basic income as a policy lever: a case study of crime in Alaska PDF