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The Economic Epidemiology of Crime

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  • Philipson, Tomas J
  • Posner, Richard A

Abstract

Economic analysis of infectious diseases emphasizes the self-correcting character of epidemics, as rising risk of infection causes potential victims to take self-protective measures. We apply the analysis to crime, showing how rational potential victims of crime will take increased self-protective measures in response to rising crime rates, causing those rates to moderate. Victim responses to crime can offset public expenditures on crime control; this implies that there may be a "natural" rate of crime that is difficult for the public sector to affect. We show that victim responses to crime can impart a cyclical pattern to crime rates and discuss the implications of our analysis for gun control and present empirical evidence concerning the responsiveness of self-protective measures to crime rates and the cyclical pattern of those rates. Copyright 1996 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Philipson, Tomas J & Posner, Richard A, 1996. "The Economic Epidemiology of Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(2), pages 405-433, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:39:y:1996:i:2:p:405-33
    DOI: 10.1086/467354
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & José A. Scheinkman, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-548.
    2. Ben-Shahar, Omri & Harel, Alon, 1995. "Blaming the Victim: Optimal Incentives for Private Precautions against Crime," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 434-455, October.
    3. Philipson, Tomas & Posner, Richard A, 1994. "Public Spending on AIDS Education: An Economic Analysis," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 17-38, April.
    4. Philipson, Tomas, 1995. "The welfare loss of disease and the theory of taxation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 387-395, August.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kangoh Lee & Santiago M. Pinto, 2009. "Crime In A Multi‐Jurisdictional Model With Private And Public Prevention," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(5), pages 977-996, December.
    2. Paresh Kumar Narayan & Ingrid Nielsen & Russell Smyth, 2010. "Is There a Natural Rate of Crime?," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(2), pages 759-782, April.
    3. Philipson, Tomas, 2000. "Economic epidemiology and infectious diseases," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 33, pages 1761-1799, Elsevier.
    4. Ian Ayres & Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Measuring Positive Externalities from Unobservable Victim Precaution: An Empirical Analysis of Lojack," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(1), pages 43-77.
    5. Ben Vollaard & Pierre Koning, 2005. "Estimating police effectiveness with individual victimisation data," CPB Discussion Paper 47, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    6. Gregory DeAngelo & Taylor Leland Smith, 2020. "Private security, maritime piracy and the provision of international public safety," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 60(1), pages 77-97, February.
    7. Michael Makowsky, 2006. "An Agent-Based Model of Mortality Shocks, Intergenerational Effects, and Urban Crime," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 9(2), pages 1-7.
    8. Pradhan, Menno & Ravallion, Martin, 2003. "Who wants safer streets? Explaining concern for public safety in Brazil," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 17-33, February.
    9. Ann Dryden Witte & Robert Witt, 2001. "What We Spend and What We Get: Public and Private Provision of Crime Prevention," NBER Working Papers 8204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Pina-Sánchez, Jose & Buil-Gil, David & brunton-smith, ian & Cernat, Alexandru, 2021. "The impact of measurement error in models using police recorded crime rates," SocArXiv ydf4b, Center for Open Science.
    11. Anderson, Soren T. & Laxminarayan, Ramanan & Salant, Stephen W., 2012. "Diversify or focus? Spending to combat infectious diseases when budgets are tight," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 658-675.
    12. Zimmerman, Paul R., 2010. "Deterrence from self-protection measures in the ‘market model’ of crime: dynamic panel data estimates from employment in private security occupations," MPRA Paper 26187, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Philip J. Cook & John MacDonald, 2010. "Public Safety through Private Action: An economic assessment of BIDs, locks, and citizen cooperation," NBER Working Papers 15877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Pradhan, Menno & Ravallion, Martin, 1999. "Demand for public safety," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2043, The World Bank.
    15. David A. Weiner & Byron F. Lutz & Jens Ludwig, 2009. "The Effects of School Desegregation on Crime," NBER Working Papers 15380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Philip J. Cook, 2008. "Assessing Urban Crime And Its Control: An Overview," NBER Working Papers 13781, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Anderson, David A, 1999. "The Aggregate Burden of Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 611-642, October.
    18. Steven N. Durlauf & Daniel S. Nagin, 2010. "The Deterrent Effect of Imprisonment," NBER Chapters, in: Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs, pages 43-94, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Briggs Depew & Isaac D. Swensen, 2019. "The Decision to Carry: The Effect of Crime on Concealed-Carry Applications," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 54(4), pages 1121-1153.
    20. Li Gan & Roberton C. Williams Iii & Thomas Wiseman, 2011. "A Simple Model Of Optimal Hate Crime Legislation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(3), pages 674-684, July.
    21. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pc:p:3529-3571 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Zimmerman, Paul R., 2014. "The deterrence of crime through private security efforts: Theory and evidence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 66-75.
    23. Saha, Atanu & Poole, Graham, 2000. "The economics of crime and punishment: An analysis of optimal penalty," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 191-196, August.
    24. Vollaard, Ben & Koning, Pierre, 2009. "The effect of police on crime, disorder and victim precaution. Evidence from a Dutch victimization survey," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 336-348, December.

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