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Understanding the determinants of crime

  • Ayse Imrohoroglu
  • Antonio Merlo
  • Peter Rupert

In this paper, we use an overlapping generations model where individuals are allowed to engage in both legitimate market activities and criminal behavior in order to assess the role of certain factors on the property crime rate. In particular, we investigate if any of the following could be capable of generating the large differences in crime rates that are observed across countries: differences in the unemployment rate, the fraction of low-human-capital individuals in an economy, the probability of apprehension, the duration of jail sentences, and income inequality. We find that small differences in the probability of apprehension and in income inequality can generate quantitatively significant differences in the crime rates across similar environments.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in its series Working Paper with number 0602.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:0602
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  1. Hansen, G.D. & Imrohoroglu, A., 1990. "The Role Of Unemployment Insurance In An Economy With Liquidity Constraints And Moral Hazard," Papers 21, California Los Angeles - Applied Econometrics.
  2. 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.
  3. Imrohoroglu, A. & Merlo, A. & Rupert, P., 2000. "What Accounts for the Decline in Crime?," Working Papers 00-11, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  4. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "Why Do Increased Arrest Rates Appear to Reduce Crime: Deterrence, Incapacitation, or Measurement Error?," NBER Working Papers 5268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1984. "The optimal use of fines and imprisonment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 89-99, June.
  6. Matz Dahlberg & Magnus Gustavsson, 2008. "Inequality and Crime: Separating the Effects of Permanent and Transitory Income," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 70(2), pages 129-153, 04.
  7. Grogger, Jeffrey, 1991. "Certainty vs. Severity of Punishment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 297-309, April.
  8. Nilsson, Anna, 2004. "Income Inequality and Crime: The Case of Sweden," Research Papers in Economics 2004:3, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. Witte, Ann D & Tauchen, Helen, 1994. "Work and Crime: An Exploration Using Panel Data," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 155-67.
  11. Cameron, Samuel, 1988. "The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 301-23.
  12. Nilsson, Anna, 2004. "Income inequality and crime: The case of Sweden," Working Paper Series 2004:6, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  13. Grogger, Jeff, 1998. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 756-91, October.
  14. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "Inequality and Violent Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 1-40, April.
  15. 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.
  16. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
  17. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1981. "On the Usefulness of Controlling Individuals: An Economic Analysis of Rehabilitation, Incapacitation, and Deterrence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 307-22, June.
  18. Ann Dryden Witte & Helen Tauchen, 1994. "Work and Crime: An Exploration Using Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 4794, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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