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On the political economy of income redistribution and crime

  • Imrohoroglu, Ayse
  • Merlo, Antonio
  • Rupert, Peter

In this paper we consider a general equilibrium model where heterogeneous agents specialize either in legitimate market activities or in criminal activities and majority rule determines the share of income redistributed and the expenditures devoted to the apprehension of criminals. We calibrate our model to the U.S. economy in 1990, and we conduct simulation exercises to evaluate the effectiveness of expenditures on police protection and income redistribution at reducing crime. We find that while expenditures on police protection reduce crime, it is possible for the crime rate to increase with redistribution. We also show that economies that adopt relatively more generous redistribution policies may have either higher or lower crime rates than economies with relatively less generous redistribution policies, depending on the characteristics of their wage distribution and on the efficiency of their apprehension technology.

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Paper provided by University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center in its series Bulletins with number 7497.

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Date of creation: 1996
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ags:umedbu:7497
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  1. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 1999. "Why Is There More Crime in Cities?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S225-S258, December.
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  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.
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  8. McGrattan, Ellen R., 1994. "The macroeconomic effects of distortionary taxation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 573-601, June.
  9. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1982. "The Optimal Use of Fines and Imprisonment," NBER Working Papers 0932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Rao Aiyagari, S. & Peled, Dan, 1995. "Social insurance and taxation under sequential majority voting and utilitarian regimes," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(8), pages 1511-1528, November.
  11. Hellwig, Martin F., 1986. "The optimal linear income tax revisited," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 163-179, November.
  12. McKelvey, Richard D, 1979. "General Conditions for Global Intransitivities in Formal Voting Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1085-1112, September.
  13. Sala-I-Martin, X., 1992. "Public Welfare and Growth," Papers 666, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  14. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
  15. Sheshinski, Eytan, 1972. "The Optimal Linear Income-Tax," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(3), pages 297-302, July.
  16. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do About It?," NBER Working Papers 5451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Stern, N. H., 1976. "On the specification of models of optimum income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 123-162.
  18. Romer, Thomas, 1975. "Individual welfare, majority voting, and the properties of a linear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 163-185, February.
  19. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
  20. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  21. 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.
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