The left hand and the right hand: Linking the politics of social welfare and crime control

Projekter: ProjektForskning



Crime control and social welfare are the ‘left hand and right hand of the state’, and yet usually examined separately. The strength of each hand differs systematically, however, as a negative correlation exists between incarceration rates and social spending. Thus, generous welfare states like Denmark have less poverty and lower crime rates, while ‘neo-liberal’ countries such as the US or South Africa have higher crime rates and more police and prisoners. Still, we know that crime rates alone do not explain such differences, suggesting that other causal mechanisms exist. Moreover, it is unclear whether the relationship between crime control and social welfare holds historically and in countries that differ in terms of democracy, state capacity, economic development, and culture. The network includes researchers
from Denmark Israel, South Africa and the US who will study theoretical and empirical links between the penal state and the welfare state within and outside the OECD.


Effektiv start/slut dato01/01/201731/12/2017


  • University of Johannesburg (Projektpartner)
  • The Ohio State University (Projektpartner)
  • The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Projektpartner)
  • Syddansk Universitet (leder)