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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. 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.
  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. Gary D. Hansen & Ayse Imrohoroglu, 1990. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," UCLA Economics Working Papers 583, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1982. "The Optimal Use of Fines and Imprisonment," NBER Working Papers 0932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jeff Grogger, 1997. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," NBER Working Papers 5983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Dahlberg, Matz & Gustavsson, Magnus, 2005. "Inequality and Crime: Separating the Effects of Permanent and Transitory Income," Working Paper Series 2005:20, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  8. Witte, Ann D & Tauchen, Helen, 1994. "Work and Crime: An Exploration Using Panel Data," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 155-67.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Grogger, Jeffrey, 1991. "Certainty vs. Severity of Punishment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 297-309, April.
  12. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  13. Ayse Imrohoroglu & Antonio Merlo & Peter Rupert, 2004. "What Accounts For The Decline In Crime?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 707-729, 08.
  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. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
  16. Cameron, Samuel, 1988. "The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 301-23.
  17. Nilsson, Anna, 2004. "Income Inequality and Crime: The Case of Sweden," Research Papers in Economics 2004:3, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  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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