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The Changing Returns to Crime: Do Criminals Respond to Prices?

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  • Mirko Draca
  • Theodore Koutmeridis
  • Stephen Machin

Abstract

In economic models of crime individuals respond to changes in the potential value of criminal opportunities. We analyse this issue by estimating crime-price elasticities from detailed data on criminal incidents in London between 2002 and 2012. The unique data feature we exploit is a detailed classification of what goods were stolen in reported theft, robbery and burglary incidents. We first consider a panel of consumer goods covering the majority of market goods stolen in the crime incidents and find evidence of significant positive price elasticities. We then study a particular group of crimes that have risen sharply recently as world prices for them have risen, namely commodity related goods (jewellery, fuel and metal crimes), finding sizable elasticities when we instrument local UK prices by exogenous shifts in global commodity prices. Finally, we show that changes in the prices of loot from crime have played a role in explaining recent crime trends.

Suggested Citation

  • Mirko Draca & Theodore Koutmeridis & Stephen Machin, 2015. "The Changing Returns to Crime: Do Criminals Respond to Prices?," CEP Discussion Papers dp1355, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1355
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    Cited by:

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    2. Yu Aoki & Theodore Koutmeridis, 2019. "Shaking Criminal Incentives," Working Papers 2019-13, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    3. Natalya Orlovska & Julia Stepanova, 2020. "Confiscation of proceeds and property related to crimes: international standards and the ECHR practice," Juridical Tribune (Tribuna Juridica), Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, Law Department, vol. 10(3), pages 493-511, December.
    4. Galiani, Sebastian & Jaitman, Laura & Weinschelbaum, Federico, 2020. "Crime and durable goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 146-163.
    5. Mechoulan, Stéphane, 2020. "Civil unrest, emergency powers, and spillover effects: A mixed methods analysis of the 2005 French riots," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 177(C), pages 305-326.
    6. Yu Aoki & Theodore Koutmeridis, 2019. "Shaking Criminal Incentives," Working Papers 2019_13, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    7. Aoki, Yu & Koutmeridis, Theodore, 2019. "Shaking Criminal Incentives," IZA Discussion Papers 12781, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Corrado Giulietti & Brendon McConnell, 2020. "Kicking You When You're Already Down: The Multipronged Impact of Austerity on Crime," Papers 2012.08133, arXiv.org, revised Aug 2022.
    9. Pengfei Jia & King Yoong Lim & Ali Raza, 2020. "Crime, different taxation, police spending and embodied human capital," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 88(5), pages 664-698, September.
    10. Kerri Agnew, 2020. "Crime highways: The effect of motorway expansion on burglary rates," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(5), pages 995-1024, November.
    11. Enrico Cantoni & Vincent Pons, 2019. "Strict ID Laws Don’t Stop Voters: Evidence from a U.S. Nationwide Panel, 2008–2018," NBER Working Papers 25522, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Blesse, Sebastian & Diegmann, André, 2019. "Police reorganization and crime: Evidence from police station closures," ZEW Discussion Papers 18-044, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    13. Campaniello, Nadia & Gavrilova, Evelina, 2018. "Uncovering the gender participation gap in crime," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 289-304.
    14. Tomas Brabenec & Josef Montag, 2016. "Criminals and the Price System: Evidence from Czech Metal Thieves," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp558, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    15. Laura Jaitman, 2019. "Frontiers in the economics of crime: lessons for Latin America and the Caribbean," Latin American Economic Review, Springer;Centro de Investigaciòn y Docencia Económica (CIDE), vol. 28(1), pages 1-36, December.
    16. Tannenbaum, Daniel I., 2020. "Does the disclosure of gun ownership affect crime? Evidence from New York," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 181(C).
    17. Satadru Das & Naci Mocan, 2020. "Analyzing The Impact Of The World'S Largest Public Works Project On Crime," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 58(3), pages 1167-1182, July.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Crime; goods prices; metal crime; commodity prices;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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