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Willingness to pay for crime reduction: evidence from six countries in the Americas

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  • Domínguez, Patricio
  • Scartascini, Carlos

Abstract

Crime levels are a perennial development problem in Latin America and a renewed concern in the United States. At the same time, trust in the police has been falling, and questions abound about citizens' willingness to support government efforts to fight crime. We conduct a survey experiment to elicit willingness to contribute toward reducing crime across five Latin American countries and the United States. We compare homicide, robbery, and theft estimates and find a higher willingness to contribute for more severe crimes and for higher crime reductions. In addition, we examine the role of information on the willingness to contribute by conducting two experiments. First, we show that exposing respondents to crime-related news increases their willingness to pay by 5 percent. Furthermore, while we document a 7 percent gap in willingness to pay for crime reduction between people who under- and over-estimate the murder rate, we find that this gap can be wholly eliminated by informing them about the actual level of crime. On average, our estimates suggest that households are willing to contribute around $140 per year for a 20 percent reduction in homicide. This individual-level predisposition would translate into additional investment in public security efforts of up to 0.5 percent of GDP.

Suggested Citation

  • Domínguez, Patricio & Scartascini, Carlos, 2022. "Willingness to pay for crime reduction: evidence from six countries in the Americas," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 12488, Inter-American Development Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:idb:brikps:12488
    DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18235/0004531
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Kelly C. Bishop & Alvin D. Murphy, 2011. "Estimating the Willingness to Pay to Avoid Violent Crime: A Dynamic Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 625-629, May.
    3. Keefer, Philip & Scartascini, Carlos, 2022. "Trust: The Key to Social Cohesion and Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 11771, June.
    4. Richard T. Carson, 2012. "Contingent Valuation: A Practical Alternative When Prices Aren't Available," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(4), pages 27-42, Fall.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    willingness to pay; Cost of crime; Latin America; United States;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • H27 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Other Sources of Revenue

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