Dirk Niepelt, Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Recent experience with the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates, and the use of high-denomination notes by criminals and tax evaders, have led to revived proposals to phase out cash. This column argues that abolishing cash may be neither necessary nor sufficient to overcome the zero lower bound problem, and would severely undermine privacy. Allowing the public to hold reserves at central banks could reduce the need for deposit insurance, although the transition to the new regime and the effects on credit supply must be carefully considered.

Yves Zenou, Thursday, January 8, 2015

Targeting key players in a network can have important effects due to multipliers arising from peer effects. This column argues that this is particularly true for crime –the success in reducing crime in Chicago was due to the targeting of 400 key players rather than spending resources on more general targets. Key-player policies in crime, education, R&D networks, financial networks, and diffusion of microfinance outperform other policies such as targeting the most active agents in a network.

Arnaud Chevalier, Olivier Marie, Saturday, November 8, 2014

Children born in crises face different initial conditions. Data on children born in East Germany just after the Berlin Wall came down confirms that this corresponds to worse adult outcomes. ‘Children of the Wall’ have 40% higher arrest rates, are 33% more likely to have repeated a grade by age 12, and are 9% more likely to have been put into a lower educational track. This column argues that these negative outcomes can be explained by the lower average parenting skills of those who decided to have children during a period of high economic uncertainty.

Bart Golsteyn, Hans Grönqvist, Lena Lindahl, Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Time preference has substantial economic consequences. To a growing literature that shows patience to be an important indicator of economic outcomes, this column presents new evidence from a large administrative dataset that tracks children into adulthood. Those who reported more patient preferences as children move on to better labour market and health outcomes, and are less likely to become criminals.

Vicky Pryce, Saturday, February 15, 2014

Vicky Pryce talks to Viv Davies about her recent book ‘Prisonomics: Behind bars in Britain’s failing prisons’, which analyses the economic and social costs and consequences of women in prison and women’s prisons in the UK. Pryce presents the case for penal reform and provides a number of policy recommendations. The interview was recorded in London in January 2014.

Stephen Machin, Olivier Marie, Thursday, January 30, 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.

Anna Aizer, Joseph Doyle, Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The US imprisons more young people at a higher rate than any other nation. This column argues that, at a tremendous cost, incarcerating juveniles only serves to reduce their educational attainment and increase the probability of incarceration as an adult. New research suggests that using the numerous available alternatives will probably not only save the US money in the short run – as well as giving juvenile criminals better prospects in the future – but will also reduce future crime and thus future expenditures in the long run.

Matthew O. Jackson, Yves Zenou, Sunday, September 9, 2012

This paper provides an overview and synthesis of the literatures analysing games where players are connected via a network structure. While it focuses on the game theoretic modeling, it also also include some discussion of analyses of peer effects, as well as applications to diffusion, employment, crime, industrial organisation, and education.

Ben Vollaard, Friday, August 24, 2012

How to reduce incarceration rates without fuelling a crime boom? This column argues that by being more selective over whom to lock up and for how long, scarce public funds can be put to better use.

Giancarlo Spagnolo, Monday, August 13, 2012

How to save the banks but not the bankers? This column argues that fines for criminal behaviour in banks are not enough – it may be time to start locking people up.

Arcangelo Dimico, Ola Olsson, Alessia Isopi, Sunday, May 13, 2012

If it were a business, the Mafia would be one of Italy’s most successful and one of the largest in Europe. But how did it come to be so powerful? This column argues that it began with control of the international lemon trade in the 19th century.

Guglielmo Barone, Gaia Narciso, Saturday, May 5, 2012

Can organised crime divert public spending? This column presents evidence of the Mafia influencing public transfers and argues that geographically targeted aid should take into account the risk that at least part of the funding feeds into organised crime.

Randi Hjalmarsson, Helena Holmlund, Matthew Lindquist, Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How should society fight crime? This column argues education policy should be part of the answer. Exploiting a Swedish education reform as a source of exogenous variation in years of education, it suggests that one additional year of schooling decreases the likelihood of conviction by 7.5% for males and by 11% for females.

Sendhil Mullainathan, Jens Ludwig, Tuesday, November 1, 2011

According to the famous White House saying, policymakers should never let a crisis go to waste. This column argues that economists shouldn’t do so either. Instead of cursing about cuts in research funding, they should look at cheaper ways to evaluate policy – perhaps through mechanism experiments.

Lance Lochner, Monday, October 17, 2011

Given recent budget problems around the world, many governments have proposed sharp cuts to education. What are the likely long-run costs of these cuts? This column reviews a growing body of studies and concludes that crime rates are likely to increase, health and mortality are likely to deteriorate, and political and social institutions may suffer.

Philip Cook, John MacDonald, Sunday, July 10, 2011

In the US, more people work in private security than in all police forces combined, yet public debate about crime prevention typically looks at the use of public resources to deter, incapacitate, or rehabilitate criminals. This column calls for more discussion of how private action can make policing more effective and reduce the profitability of crime. One such experiment – “business improvement districts” in Los Angeles – has generated remarkable social benefits.

Ben Vollaard, Jan van Ours, Thursday, July 7, 2011

Potential victims often ward off crime by taking appropriate precautions. This column argues that government policy targeted at strengthening the precautionary response of potential victims can make a big difference. It shows that mandating the installation of burglar-resistant features in residential construction in the Netherlands reduced burglary risk by 26%.

Axel Dreher, Seo-Young Cho, Eric Neumayer, Thursday, March 10, 2011

According to the US Department of State, there are more than 12 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. This column presents a new index to measure the spread of anti-trafficking policies. It suggests they mainly diffuse across contiguous countries and main trading partners, due to externality effects, and also via political and cultural similarities, due to learning and emulation.

Donato De Rosa, Nishaal Gooroochurn, Holger Görg, Monday, August 30, 2010

Does it pay to be corrupt? This column presents evidence from 22 emerging economies in Europe and the former Soviet Union on the effects of corruption on firm productivity. It finds that in a highly corrupt country, bribing officials actually has a negative effect on productivity, whereas in countries with strong institutions, it can open doors that competitors dare not touch.

Ben Vollaard, Monday, July 5, 2010

How economically minded are car thieves? This column presents evidence from the Netherlands suggesting that car thieves stay away from cars in unpopular colours because of their relatively low resale value. It argues that driving a car in a bright, uncommon colour such as yellow is a highly effective deterrent against car theft – about as effective as an expensive security device.

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