Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Economic Theories of Crime
H. Naci Mocan
Economic theories of crime consider criminal activity as a decision made by rational individuals, based on the perceived costs and benefits of the criminal act. There are individuals who commit crimes under any circumstance without regard to the consequences of their actions, and there are individuals who would not commit crimes under any circumstance. Economic theories of crime, however, postulate that most individuals respond to incentives pertaining to criminal behavior. Accordingly, economic theory asserts that the level of crime in the society can be affected by making changes in the costs and benefits of crime. You go to your bank to deposit a check, and you see a $100 bill on the counter. Will you pick it up and put it in your pocket? Would your answer change if you saw $1 or $1000 instead of $100? Would your answer change if you saw a security guard standing near the ...