Lessons from the economics of crime
Stephen Machin, Olivier Marie 30 January 2014
In many settings, criminal behaviour can be analysed just like any other economic decision-making process, namely – as the outcome of individual choices influenced by perceived consequences. This column explains the advantages of adopting an economic approach to understanding crime. Furthermore, criminal law and crime-prevention programmes can be evaluated using the same normative techniques applied to health, education, and environmental regulation.
What have economists contributed to our understanding of criminal behaviour and crime control? Could they help make sense of the recent large crime drop documented in the UK and other countries (Draca 2013, Marie 2010)?
As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Nobel laureate Gary Becker’s seminal contribution (Becker 1968), the economics of crime is becoming part of the standard portfolio that makes up the discipline. On both sides of the Atlantic, a critical mass of academic economists has specialised in the study of crime and its control, and the field is growing rapidly.
Frontiers of economic research
crime, criminal behaviour, crime prevention