Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 25, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412979290 | Print ISBN: 9781412961424 | Online ISBN: 9781412979290| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this handbook
Chapter 73: Economics of Crime
Economics of crime The persistence of “crime” in all human societies and the challenges it imposes for determining how to enforce laws enjoining it have attracted the attention of scholars throughout human history, including, in particular, utilitarian philosophers and early economists such as Beccaria, Paley, Smith, and Bentham. Indeed, in view of its empirical regularity, sociologists such as Durkheim adopted the view that “crime, in itself, is a normal social phenomenon,” rather than an aberration of human nature. It was not until the late 1960s, especially following the seminal work by Becker (1968), however, that economists reconnected with the subject in a systematic fashion, using the modern tools of economic theory and applied econometrics. The essence of the economic approach, as restated by Becker (1968), lies in the assumption that potential offenders respond to incentives and that the volume of offenses in the population can therefore be deterred or prevented ...