I also develop, to my knowledge, the first theoretical model to explicitly account for hysteresis - a situation where positive exogenous variations in the relevant economic variables have a different effect from negative variations - in both criminal behaviour and crime rates in order to fill the gap between the theoretical predictions and the empirical evidence about the efficiency of policies in reducing crime rates.
The majority of the theoretical analyses predict a sharp decrease in crime rates when there are significant improvements in the economic conditions or an increase in the probability of punishment.
However, the existing empirical studies have found lower than expected effects on crime rates from variations in variables related to those factors.
One important consequence of hysteresis is that the effect on an outcome variable from positive exogenous variations in the determining variables has a different magnitude from negative variations.
This thesis encompasses three essays around criminal behaviour with the first one analysing the impact of programmes aimed at poverty reduction, the second one developing a theoretical model of hysteresis in crime, and the third one empirically investigating the hysteresis hypothesis in crime rates.
In the first chapter I investigate the impact of conditional cash transfers (CCT) on crime rates by analysing the Brazilian Bolsa Familia, the largest CCT programme in the world, in a panel data between 20.
The Public Health significance is that individually social factors and environmental factors are leading to crime rates, although together they increase the risk of criminal behavior.
Two cases of individuals exposed to both detrimental environmental factors (mercury and lead) and social factors are examined in this essay showing how individuals are more susceptible to neurotoxicity and criminal activity when exposed to both.
The guidelines of the Brazilian programme established that the amount of resources available for each state should be based on the poverty levels in the 2000 Census.
However, due to reasons unrelated to poverty levels and crime rates, some states were able to implement the programme to a greater extent more quickly than others.