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The Socioeconomic Determinants of Crime. A Review of the Literature

  • Paolo Buonanno

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Milan-Bicocca)

Starting from Becker’s seminal paper we review the first contributions to the economics of crime, stressing how with the first model of criminal choice, due to Becker, the way of conceiving criminal behaviours has drastically changed. In fact, criminal choice ceases to be viewed as determined by mental illness or bad attitudes, but it is considered on the basis of a maximization problem in which agents have to compare costs and benefits of legal and illegal activities taking in account the probability of being arrested and punished and the expected returns from crime. Criminal decision is an economic choice by rational agents. In the second part of the survey, in which we focus our attention on empirical works, we present the main recent contributions to the economics of crime; in particular we outline the determinants of criminal behaviours and explore the relationships existing between crime and socioeconomic variables emerging from the literature. In fact, the economics of crime interacts with different and heterogeneous fields (i.e. sociology, criminology, psychiatry and geography). It is closely related to poverty, social exclusion, wage and income inequality, cultural and family background, level of education and other economic and social factors that may affect individual’s propensity to commit crimes such as cultural characteristics, age and sex.

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File URL: http://dipeco.economia.unimib.it/repec/pdf/mibwpaper63.pdf
File Function: First version, 2003
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Paper provided by University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 63.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2003
Date of revision: Nov 2003
Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:63
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