Pogarsky, Greg: Behavioral Economics and Crime
Daniel S. Nagin & Raymond Paternoster
In 1968, Nobel Prize–winning economist Gary S. Becker laid out an economics-based theory of crime in an article titled “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach.” To Becker, the theory “simply extend[ed] the economist's usual analysis of choice,” which involves a calculated weighing of the costs and benefits of alternative courses of action, to criminal decision making (p. 170). He also went on to argue with the economics-based theory of crime in hand, it was now possible to “dispense with special theories of anomie, psychological inadequacies or inheritance of special traits” (p. 170). Thus, to Becker the economic approach to crime that he pioneered could stand alone without appeal to any sociological or psychological constructs. Becker's neoclassical economic model of crime argued that people calculate the expected utility of criminal and non-criminal actions and choose the one with the greatest value. Components of expected utility included the costs of crime such ...