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Help Wanted: Economists, Crime and Public Policy

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  • John J. DiIulio

Abstract

Beginning with Gary W. Becker's (1968) article on crime and punishment, economists have contributed important theoretical insights and empirical findings to the study of criminal behavior but the influence of economists on crime-relevant research and over policy debates remains negligible. This essay summarizes some basic data on the causes of crime, the social costs and benefits of incarceration, and replenishing social capital. Work on crime by economists should become influential in setting research agendas and shaping policy debates but economists will have to roll up their sleeves, complexify their models, and confront a real-world 'prisoner's dilemma' or two.

Suggested Citation

  • John J. DiIulio, 1996. "Help Wanted: Economists, Crime and Public Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:10:y:1996:i:1:p:3-24
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.10.1.3
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.10.1.3
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Philip J. Cook & George Tauchen, 1982. "The Effect of Liquor Taxes on Heavy Drinking," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 379-390, Autumn.
    2. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Anne C. Case & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects of Family and Neighborhood on Disadvantaged Youths," NBER Working Papers 3705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Tauchen, Helen & Witte, Ann Dryden & Griesinger, Harriet, 1994. "Criminal Deterrence: Revisiting the Issue with a Birth Cohort," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(3), pages 399-412, August.
    5. Cloninger, Dale O., 1994. "Enforcement risk and deterrence: A re-examination," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 273-285.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists

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