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A simple model of crime waves, riots, and revolutions

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  • Alexander Tabarrok

Abstract

Standard economic models of criminal behavior analyze the criminal's decision in a partial equilibrium context. The standard model does not recognize that the probability of being punished is a function of the total amount of crime that occurs. As the total amount of crime increases, police resources become strained, courts become congested, and prisons become overcrowded. As a result, proportionately fewer criminals are apprehended, convicted, and imprisoned. The feedback effects from one criminal's decision to participate in crime to another criminal's decision can be highly significant. In one parameterization of the model developed here, the individual commits twice as many crimes for a given parameter shift than is implied by the standard model. The model also sheds light on other areas where criminal actions are interdependent such as riots, crime waves, and revolutions. Copyright International Atlantic Economic Society 1997

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Tabarrok, 1997. "A simple model of crime waves, riots, and revolutions," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 25(3), pages 274-288, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:atlecj:v:25:y:1997:i:3:p:274-288 DOI: 10.1007/BF02298409
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Sah, Raaj K, 1991. "Social Osmosis and Patterns of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1272-1295, December.
    3. Russell Cooper & Andrew John, 1988. "Coordinating Coordination Failures in Keynesian Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(3), pages 441-463.
    4. Blumstein, Alfred & Cohen, Jacqueline & Miller, Harold D., 1980. "Demographically disaggregated projections of prison populations," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 1-26.
    5. 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.
    6. Timur Kuran, 1989. "Sparks and prairie fires: A theory of unanticipated political revolution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 61(1), pages 41-74, April.
    7. Isaac Ehrlich, 1974. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: An Economic Analysis," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 68-134 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Rioting, civic participation and unrest: any insight from economics?
      by paolatubaro in Paola Tubaro's Blog on 2012-07-13 19:49:31

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    Cited by:

    1. Kenneth Burdett & Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2003. "Crime, Inequality, and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1764-1777.
    2. Kenneth Burdett & Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2004. "An On-The-Job Search Model Of Crime, Inequality, And Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 681-706, August.
    3. Braakmann, Nils, 2012. "The effect of the 2011 London riots on crime, policing and unemployment," MPRA Paper 44883, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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