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Crime, Ethics and Occupational Choice: Endogenous Sorting in a Closed Model

Author

Listed:
  • John P. Conley

    () (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

  • Ping Wang

    () (Vanderbilt University and NBER)

Abstract

We consider a simple model in which agents are endowed with heterogeneous abilities and differing degrees of honesty. Agents choose either to become criminals or invest in education and become workers instead. The model is closed in that all criminal proceeds are stolen from agents working in the formal sector and that expenditures on both deterrence and punishment of criminals are paid for through taxes levied on workers. Thus, although we assume that there no direct interactive effects among criminals, criminals crowd each other in two ways: positively in that enforcement and punishment resources become more widely diffused as more agents commit crimes, and negatively in that the presence of more criminals implies that there is less loot to be divided over a larger number of thieves. We establish the possibility of multiple equilibria and characterize the equilibrium properties. We then evaluate the effectiveness of deterrence policies under a balanced government budget.

Suggested Citation

  • John P. Conley & Ping Wang, 2004. "Crime, Ethics and Occupational Choice: Endogenous Sorting in a Closed Model," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0402, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0402
    as

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    File URL: http://www.accessecon.com/pubs/VUECON/vu04-w02.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2004
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Freeman, Scott & Grogger, Jeffrey & Sonstelie, Jon, 1996. "The Spatial Concentration of Crime," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 216-231, September.
    2. Witte, Ann D & Tauchen, Helen, 1994. "Work and Crime: An Exploration Using Panel Data," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 155-167.
    3. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Rasmusen, Eric, 1996. "Stigma and Self-Fulfilling Expectations of Criminality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(2), pages 519-543, October.
    5. Sah, Raaj K, 1991. "Social Osmosis and Patterns of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1272-1295, December.
    6. Ann Dryden Witte & Helen Tauchen, 1994. "Work and Crime: An Exploration Using Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 4794, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
    8. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-565, May-June.
    9. Davis, Michael L, 1988. "Time and Punishment: An Intertemporal Model of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 383-390, April.
    10. Chien-Chieh Huang & Derek Laing & Ping Wang, 2004. "Crime And Poverty: A Search-Theoretic Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 909-938, August.
    11. Lochner, L., 1999. "Education, Work, and Crime: Theory and Evidence," RCER Working Papers 465, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Criminal Behavior; Educational Choice; Punishment;

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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