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Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 10 No. 1 (Winter 1996)

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Help Wanted: Economists, Crime and Public Policy

Article Citation

DiIulio, John J. 1996. "Help Wanted: Economists, Crime and Public Policy." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 10(1): 3-24.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.10.1.3

Abstract

Beginning with Gary W. Becker's (1968) article on crime and punishment, economists have contributed important theoretical insights and empirical findings to the study of criminal behavior but the influence of economists on crime-relevant research and over policy debates remains negligible. This essay summarizes some basic data on the causes of crime, the social costs and benefits of incarceration, and replenishing social capital. Work on crime by economists should become influential in setting research agendas and shaping policy debates but economists will have to roll up their sleeves, complexify their models, and confront a real-world 'prisoner's dilemma' or two.

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Authors

DiIulio, John J. (Princeton U and Brookings Institution)

JEL Classifications

K42: Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
A11: Role of Economics; Role of Economists

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