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Social status and crime

  • Emrah Arbak



We consider a large population of agents choosing either to engage in a criminal activity or working. Individuals feel varying degrees of selfreproach if they commit criminal acts. In addition, they are concerned with their social status in society, based on others’ perceptions of their values. In making their decisions, individuals weigh both the material and social risks of being a criminal and a worker. We find that introducing social status concerns may induce multiple equilibria. We also consider the implications of intragroup and intergroup interactions in an economy with two classes of earning abilities. Typically, there is more crime in the low ability group and increasing punishment reduces crime, but the opposite may also be true.

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Paper provided by Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure in its series Working Papers with number 0510.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gat:wpaper:0510
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  1. Sah, Raaj K, 1991. "Social Osmosis and Patterns of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1272-95, December.
  2. Rasmusen, E., 1992. "Stigma and Self-Fulfilling Expectations of Criminality," Papers 92-019, Indiana - Center for Econometric Model Research.
  3. Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Merlo, Antonio & Rupert, Peter, 1996. "On the political economy of income redistribution and crime," Bulletins 7497, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
  4. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jšrgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms And Economic Incentives In The Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35, February.
  5. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
  6. Glaeser, Edward L & Sacerdote, Bruce & Scheinkman, Jose A, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-48, May.
  7. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 2001. "Moral Rules and the Moral Sentiments: Toward a Theory of an Optimal Moral System," NBER Working Papers 8688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
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