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An Experimental Test of Criminal Behavior Among Juveniles and Young Adults

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  • Michael S. Visser

    ()

  • William T. Harbaugh

    ()

  • Naci Mocan

    ()
    (University of Oregon Economics Department)

Abstract

We report results from economic experiments that provide a direct test of the hypothesis that criminal behavior responds rationally to changes in the possible rewards and in the probability and severity of punishment. The experiments involve decisions that are best described as petty larceny, and are done using high school and college students who can anonymously take real money from each other. We find that decisions about whether and how much to steal are, in general, rational and responsive to the variations in tradeoffs, and sometimes, though not always, to the overall availability of criminal opportunities.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Oregon Economics Department in its series University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers with number 2006-11.

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Length: 48
Date of creation: 18 Aug 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ore:uoecwp:2006-11

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Keywords: crime; rational choice; revealed preference;

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References

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  1. Afriat, Sidney N, 1972. "Efficiency Estimation of Production Function," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 13(3), pages 568-98, October.
  2. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
  3. James Andreoni & William T. Harbaugh, 2006. "Power Indices for Revealed Preference Tests," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001257, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. Varian, Hal R, 1982. "The Nonparametric Approach to Demand Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 945-73, July.
  6. William T. Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Timothy R. Berry, 2001. "GARP for Kids: On the Development of Rational Choice Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1539-1545, December.
  7. Bar-Ilan, Avner & Sacerdote, Bruce, 2004. "The Response of Criminals and Noncriminals to Fines," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(1), pages 1-17, April.
  8. Meyers, Samuel L, Jr, 1983. "Estimating the Economic Model of Crime: Employment versus Punishment Effects," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(1), pages 157-66, February.
  9. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  10. Jonathan Gruber & Jonathan Zinman, 2001. "Youth Smoking in the United States: Evidence and Implications," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 69-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Sippel, Reinhard, 1997. "An Experiment on the Pure Theory of Consumer's Behaviour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(444), pages 1431-44, September.
  12. Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effects of Police on Crime: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1244-1250, September.
  13. Cornwell, Christopher & Trumbull, William N, 1994. "Estimating the Economic Model of Crime with Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 360-66, May.
  14. Farrell, Susan & Manning, Willard G. & Finch, Michael D., 2003. "Alcohol dependence and the price of alcoholic beverages," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 117-147, January.
  15. H. Naci Mocan & Daniel I. Rees, 1999. "Economic Conditions, Deterrence and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 7405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. William Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Timothy Berry, 2001. "Garp for kids: On the development of rational choice behavior," Artefactual Field Experiments 00056, The Field Experiments Website.
  17. H. Naci Mocan & Stephen C. Billups & Jody Overland, 2005. "A Dynamic Model of Differential Human Capital and Criminal Activity," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(288), pages 655-681, November.
  18. Block, M K & Heineke, J M, 1975. "A Labor Theoretic Analysis of the Criminal Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 314-25, June.
  19. H. Naci Mocan & Hope Corman, 2000. "A Time-Series Analysis of Crime, Deterrence, and Drug Abuse in New York City," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 584-604, June.
  20. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin & Lan Liang, . "Do Adolescents with Emotional or Behavioral Problems Respond to Cigarette Prices?," Departmental Working Papers 2008-06, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  2. Matteo Rizzolli & Luca Stanca, 2012. "Judicial Errors and Crime Deterrence: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 311 - 338.

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