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Happiness and Beliefs in Criminal Environments

  • Rafael Di Tella
  • Robert MacCulloch
  • Hugo Nopo


This paper uses newly available data to describe the distribution of crime victimization and other criminal activities (including drug trafficking and corruption) around the world. The paper then documents a negative (positive) correlation between measures of criminal activity and happiness and measures of positive (negative) emotions. The paper also studies the correlation between ideological beliefs and criminal activity, finding that crime victims are more likely to believe that hard work does not pay and that the government should increase the amount of redistribution to the poor.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number 4605.

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Date of creation: Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:4605
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  1. Alejandro Gaviria & Carmen Pagés-Serra, 1999. "Patterns of Crime Victimization in Latin America," Research Department Publications 4186, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  2. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  3. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
  4. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-2001, University of Bonn, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies.
  5. 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.
  6. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2001. "Identifying Welfare Effects from Subjective Questions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(271), pages 335-57, August.
  7. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
  8. Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2003. "Unhappiness and Crime : Evidence from South Africa," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 685, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  9. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  10. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  11. Steven D. Levitt, 1999. "The changing relationship between income and crime victimization," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sep, pages 87-98.
  12. Rosen, Sherwin, 1988. "The Value of Changes in Life Expectancy," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 285-304, September.
  13. Alejandro Gaviria Uribe & Carlos Eduardo Vélez, 2001. "Who Bears the Burden of Crime in Colombia," INFORMES DE INVESTIGACIÓN 003776, FEDESARROLLO.
  14. Jens Ludwig & Philip J. Cook, 1999. "The Benefits of Reducing Gun Violence: Evidence from Contingent-Valuation Survey Data," NBER Working Papers 7166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Alex Michalos & Bruno Zumbo, 2000. "Criminal Victimization and the Quality of Life," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 50(3), pages 245-295, June.
  16. Soares, Rodrigo R., 2006. "The welfare cost of violence across countries," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 821-846, September.
  17. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
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