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The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence


  • Cameron, Samuel


Economists have generally supposed that certainty and severity of punishment deter crime and have been surprised whenever this is not confirmed by empirical word. This paper gives a number of explanations, consistent with economic theory, as to why there need not be a contradiction here. The empirical work is reviewed with the conclusion that economists have yet to convincingly demonstrate the case for deterrence. In conclusion, a number of potentially fruitful areas for future research within the deterrence paradigm are suggested. Copyright 1988 by WWZ and Helbing & Lichtenhahn Verlag AG

Suggested Citation

  • Cameron, Samuel, 1988. "The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 301-323.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:41:y:1988:i:2:p:301-23

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do about It?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 25-42, Winter.
    2. Angela K. Dills & Jeffrey A. Miron & Garrett Summers, 2010. "What Do Economists Know about Crime?," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America, pages 269-302 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. H. Naci Mocan & Daniel I. Rees, 2005. "Economic Conditions, Deterrence and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from Micro Data," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 319-349.
    5. Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1156-1185, December.
    6. Andrew W. Horowitz & Julie R. Trivitt, 2007. "Does Child Labor Reduce Youth Crime?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 559-573, November.
    7. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-290, June.
    8. Grogger, Jeff, 1998. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 756-791, October.
    9. Cameron, Samuel, 1988. "The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 301-323.
    10. Keith R. Ihlanfeldt, 2007. "Neighborhood Drug Crime and Young Males' Job Accessibility," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 151-164, February.
    11. Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Crime and the Employment of Disadvantaged Youths," NBER Working Papers 3875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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