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Inequality, Crime and Economic Growth: A Classical Argument for Distributional Equality


  • Josten, Stefan Dietrich


This paper studies the dynamic general-equilibrium interactions between inequality, crime and economic growth by embedding the rational choice-theoretical approach to criminal behavior in a heterogeneous-agents endogenous-growth OLG model. Based on their respective opportunity costs, individuals choose to specialize in either legal or criminal activities. While legal households contribute to aggregate goods supply over time by either working or building human capital, criminals make a living by expropriating legal citizens of part of the latter's income. An increase in inequality lowers the economy's growth rate and possesses negative welfare effects for all agents with endowments equal to or above average and for agents with endowment below average that are born sufficiently far in the future. Copyright 2003 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Josten, Stefan Dietrich, 2003. "Inequality, Crime and Economic Growth: A Classical Argument for Distributional Equality," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 10(4), pages 435-452, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:10:y:2003:i:4:p:435-52

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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.
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    5. Cecilia Garcia-Penalosa & Eve Caroli & Philippe Aghion, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1615-1660, December.
    6. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
    7. George J. Stigler, 1974. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 55-67 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. 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.
    9. Posner, Richard A, 1975. "The Social Costs of Monopoly and Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 807-827, August.
    10. Mathur, Vijay K, 1978. "Economics of Crime: An Investigation of the Deterrent Hypothesis for Urban Areas," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(3), pages 459-466, August.
    11. Smith, Eric & Wright, Randall, 1992. "Why Is Automobile Insurance in Philadelphia So Damn Expensive?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 756-772, September.
    12. repec:dau:papers:123456789/10091 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Perotti, Roberto, 1992. "Income Distribution, Politics, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 311-316, May.
    14. Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Growth, Income Distribution, and Democracy: What the Data Say," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 149-187, June.
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    16. Herschel I. Grossman & Minseong Kim, 1996. "Inequality, Predation and Welfare," NBER Working Papers 5704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stephan Klasen & Nathalie Scholl & Rahul Lahoti & Sophie Ochmann & Sebastian Vollmer, 2016. "Inequality – Worldwide Trends and Current Debates," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 209, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    2. repec:ris:ecoint:0805 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Neanidis, Kyriakos C. & Papadopoulou, Vea, 2013. "Crime, fertility, and economic growth: Theory and evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 101-121.
    4. Lozano-Cortés, René & Lozano-Cortés, Maribel & Cabrera-Castellanos, Luis F., 2016. "Determinantes socioeconómicos del crimen en México
      [The Socioeconomic Determinants of Crime: The case of Mexico]
      ," MPRA Paper 68922, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Michal Brzezinski, 2013. "Income Polarization and Economic Growth," LIS Working papers 587, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    6. Jorge Alberto Charles Coll, 2014. "Inequality and growth in the context of the Mexican economy: Does inequality matter for growth?," Working Papers 331, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    7. Mauro Costantini & Iris Meco & Antonio Paradiso, 2016. "Common trends in the US state-level crime.What do panel data say?," Working Papers 2016:14, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    8. Charles-Coll, Jorge A., 2010. "The optimal rate of inequality: A framework for the relationship between income inequality and economic growth," MPRA Paper 28921, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Adalgiso Amendola & Roberto Dell’Anno, 2014. "Income inequality and economic growth: an empirical investigation in Mediterranean countries," RIEDS - Rivista Italiana di Economia, Demografia e Statistica - Italian Review of Economics, Demography and Statistics, SIEDS Societa' Italiana di Economia Demografia e Statistica, vol. 68(2), pages 35-58, April-Jun.

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