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An Experimental Test of Criminal Behavior Among Juveniles and Young Adults

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  • Michael S. Visser

    ()

  • William T. Harbaugh

    ()

  • Naci Mocan

    () (University of Oregon Economics Department)

Abstract

We report results from economic experiments that provide a direct test of the hypothesis that criminal behavior responds rationally to changes in the possible rewards and in the probability and severity of punishment. The experiments involve decisions that are best described as petty larceny, and are done using high school and college students who can anonymously take real money from each other. We find that decisions about whether and how much to steal are, in general, rational and responsive to the variations in tradeoffs, and sometimes, though not always, to the overall availability of criminal opportunities.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael S. Visser & William T. Harbaugh & Naci Mocan, 2006. "An Experimental Test of Criminal Behavior Among Juveniles and Young Adults," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2006-11, University of Oregon Economics Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ore:uoecwp:2006-11
    as

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    File URL: http://economics.uoregon.edu/papers/UO-2006-11_Harbaugh_Crime.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Varian, Hal R, 1982. "The Nonparametric Approach to Demand Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 945-973, July.
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    3. Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effects of Police on Crime: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1244-1250, September.
    4. H. Naci Mocan & Daniel I. Rees, 2005. "Economic Conditions, Deterrence and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from Micro Data," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 319-349.
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    8. H. Naci Mocan & Stephen C. Billups & Jody Overland, 2005. "A Dynamic Model of Differential Human Capital and Criminal Activity," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(288), pages 655-681, November.
    9. William T. Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Timothy R. Berry, 2001. "GARP for Kids: On the Development of Rational Choice Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1539-1545, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ana Maria Ibanez & Catherine Rodriguez & David Zarruk, 2013. "Crime, Punishment, and Schooling Decisions: Evidence from Colombian Adolescents," Research Department Publications IDB-WP-413, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    2. Erdal Tekin & Naci Mocan & Lan Liang, 2009. "Do Adolescents with Emotional or Behavioral Problems Respond to Cigarette Prices?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 67-85, July.
    3. Matteo Rizzolli & Luca Stanca, 2012. "Judicial Errors and Crime Deterrence: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 311-338.
    4. Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D & Combs, T. Dalton & Kodaverdian, Niree, 2015. "Consistency in Simple vs. Complex Choices over the Life Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 10457, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    crime; rational choice; revealed preference;

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms

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