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Determinants of the Crime Rate in Argentina during the 90's


  • Ana María Cerro

    (Universidad Nacional de Tucumán)

  • Osvaldo Meloni

    (Universidad Nacional de Tucumán)


Since Adam Smith, economists have emphasized income distribution and unemployment as key elements to explain criminal behavior. However, the empirical evidence did not always confirm such conjecture. Departing from the theoretical framework proposed by Becker (1968), the present paper identifies the determinants of the crime rate in Argentina using a panel data for 1990-99. As in previous papers studying the Argentina case, it is found that deterrence variables are important. However, unlike those papers, income distribution, unemployment and per capita GDP also played crucial roles, which has important implications for policy design. Classification JEL: K4, I3

Suggested Citation

  • Ana María Cerro & Osvaldo Meloni, 2005. "Determinants of the Crime Rate in Argentina during the 90's," Law and Economics 0504001, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwple:0504001
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 16

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Gary S. Becker & George J. Stigler, 1974. "Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
    3. Benson, Bruce L. & Rasmussen, David W. & Kim, Iljoong, 1998. "Deterrence and Public Policy: Trade-Offs in the Allocation of Police Resources," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 77-100, March.
    4. George J. Stigler, 1974. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 55-67 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Criminal Deterrence in the Reduced Form: A New Perspective on Ehrlich's Seminal Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 476-483, July.
    6. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1977. "Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Some Further Thoughts and Additional Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(4), pages 741-788, August.
    7. Osvaldo Meloni, 2005. "Crecimiento potencial y productividad en la Argentina: 1980-1997," Development and Comp Systems 0503001, EconWPA.
    8. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-290, June.
    9. Samuel L. Myers, 1983. "Estimating the Economic Model of Crime: Employment Versus Punishment Effects," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(1), pages 157-166.
    10. Cameron, Samuel, 1988. "The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 301-323.
    11. Zhang, Junsen, 1997. "The Effect of Welfare Programs on Criminal Behavior: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(1), pages 120-137, January.
    12. Benson, B.L. & Kim, I. & Rasmussen, D.W., 1992. "Estimating Deterrence Effects: A Public Choice Perspective on the Economics of Crime Literature," Working Papers 1992_12_01, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
    13. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Qadri, Faisal Sultan & Kadri, Adeel Sultan, 2010. "Relationship between education, health and crime: fable, fallacy or fact," MPRA Paper 30638, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Cerro, Ana María & Ortega, Ana Carolina, 2012. "Sources of Regional Crime Persistence Argentina 1980-2008," MPRA Paper 44482, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. World Bank, 2003. "Jamaica - The Road to Sustained Growth : Country Economic Memorandum," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14666, The World Bank.
    4. Piraee Khosrow & Barzegar Maryam, 2011. "The Relationship between the Misery Index and Crimes: Evidence from Iran," Asian Journal of Law and Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-21, April.
    5. World Bank, 2004. "The Road to Sustained Growth in Jamaica," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15014.
    6. Meloni, Osvaldo, 2014. "Does poverty relief spending reduce crime? Evidence from Argentina," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 28-38.
    7. Cotte Poveda Alexander, 2011. "Socio-Economic Development and Violence: An Empirical Application for Seven Metropolitan Areas in Colombia," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 17(1), pages 1-23, September.
    8. Cerro, Ana María & Rodríguez Andrés, Antonio, 2010. "The Effect of Crime on the Job Market: An ARDL approach to Argentina," MPRA Paper 44457, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Meloni, Osvaldo, 2012. "Is there an electoral-motivated crime rate cycle? Evidence from Argentina," MPRA Paper 40177, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Crime rate; income distribution; unemployment; Argentina;

    JEL classification:

    • K - Law and Economics

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