27 THE ECONOMICS OF CRIME ________________________________________________________________________ CHAPTER OUTLINE Who Commits Crimes and Why The Rational Criminal Model The Costs of Crime Optimal Spending on Crime Control Summary LEARNING OBJECTIVES LO1: Describe how economics can contribute to the debate over crime and crime control. LO2: Describe who generally commits crime and why. LO3: Conclude that economists who study crime often assume that criminals are rational. LO4: Analyze the cost of crime to society and whether we are currently spending the right amount, focusing on the right criminals, emphasizing the right crimes, and enforcing the right sentences. LO5: Apply the principles of incentives, marginal cost and marginal benefit to crime control. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. According to Gary Becker’s model of criminal behavior, what are the two main factors that determine crime? 2. What does Becker assume about the criminal? Why is this criticized? 3. What are the risks and return for a crime? What are the risks and return for a legal job? 4. What effect will a recession have on crime? 5. How will raising the level of education in the United States affect crime? 6. What are the two things that we can do to deter criminals from committing crimes? 2 Chapter 27 7. What are the costs associated with a crime? 8. Use the concepts of marginal benefit and marginal cost to determine how vigorously we should enforce the law. 9. What is the marginal benefit to society from incarcerating a criminal? 10. What is the marginal benefit of continuing to incarcerate a criminal that commits 20 crimes per year at a cost of $3,000 per crime? What is the marginal cost of incarceration? (Use the average cost of holding a criminal in jail given in your text.) Estimate the net benefit to society from incarcerating this criminal. 11. What are the two methods economists use to estimate intangible losses associated with crime? THE WEB-BASED QUESTION Part I. The Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act of 1990 was signed by President Bush in 1990. This law is known today as the Cleary Act, in memory of Jeanne Ann Cleary. In 1986 she was robbed, beaten, raped, and murdered by another student that she did not know while she was sleeping in her dorm room. The Cleary Act now requires all colleges that participate in the student federal aid programs to report the incidences of crime on campus to the Department of Education. The schools are required to disclose this information to students, faculty, staff, and prospective students upon request. The summary statistics of oncampus crimes reported by post-secondary schools for the years 2001 through 2003 are reported in the table below. What changes do you see in the on-campus crime statistics in the United States? Your College Name: T t Total U.S. On-Campus Crime Reported to the U.S. Department of Education YEAR (3 recent years) 2005 2006 2007 Criminal Offenses—On Campus Murder/Non-Negligent 11 9 46 2704 2710 2696 45 43 38 Robbery 2028 1960 1935 Aggravated Assault 2868 3006 2833 Manslaughter Forcible Sex Offenses Non-Forcible Sex Offenses The Economics of Crime Burglary 3 30819 32105 30204 Motor Vehicle Theft 5888 5512 4910 Arson 1019 933 790 2 0 4 Liquor Law Violations 34315 26185 35820 Drug Law Violations 26092 27966 28920 1956 2006 1760 178831 190048 186290 26092 27966 28920 1956 2006 1762 Negligent Manslaughter Arrests – On Campus On-Campus Arrests Illegal Weapons Possessions Disciplinary Actions on Campus Liquor Law Violations Drug Law Violations Illegal Weapons Possessions Source: The Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education. Summary Campus Crime and Security Statistics 2002-2004 http://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/campus.html http://ope.ed.gov/security/ The crime statistics for your school are available on the following website of the Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education: http://ope.ed.gov/security/Search.asp. Locate the above website and enter the name of your institution. Examine the criminal offenses, hate crimes, and arrests at your own college. In the table on the next page, list the number of reported on-campus crimes, the number of arrests, and the number of referrals for disciplinary action over recent years. Consider the costs from crime that you personally face. How does the pattern of crime on your own campus compare to the trend in on-campus crime throughout the United States? ANSWERS TO STUDY QUESTIONS SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO THE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. According to Gary Becker’s model of criminal behavior, the two main factors that determine crime are the risk and return of a job. The decision to do legal or illegal work is viewed as an investment-like decision. 2. Becker assumes that criminals are rational, and that they are capable of making rational decisions. This has been criticized because many crimes are senseless and defy rational explanation. 4 Chapter 27 3. The risks associated with a crime are the risks of being caught and punished. The return for a crime is the personal gain from the crime. Crime is a high-risk and high-return job opportunity. A legal job offers no risk of arrest, but offers a low salary for unskilled labor. Thus, legal work is low-risk and a low-return job opportunity. 4. A recession is expected to increase crime as it reduces the possibility of a legal job, which offers a good salary. The high risk/ high return of crime is a more attractive alternative for some people. 5. Raising the level of education in the United States is expected to lower crime, as more people will be trained to accept employment in the expanding high-tech economy. Over the last half-century, high-paying lowskilled job opportunities have diminished, while high-skilled jobs have grown. This trend is expected to continue. 6. The two things that we can do to deter criminals from committing crime are: (1) We can increase the risk of getting caught. (2) We can increase the severity of the punishment. 7. The costs associated with a crime include the value of what was taken or stolen, the victim’s loss of actual or potential income, the monetary value of psychological trauma, and the pain and suffering resulting from injuries or death. 8. The optimal level of law enforcement is at the point where the marginal cost of apprehending, trying, and convicting the criminal is equal to the marginal benefit to society from having this criminal incarcerated. 9. Because a criminal is expected to continue to commit crimes, the marginal benefit to society from incarceration is the prevention of future crimes by this individual. 10. The marginal benefit of incarcerating a criminal is estimated to be $60,000 per year. The additional cost of continuing to hold the criminal in jail is $27,000 per year. The net benefit to society from continuing to incarcerate this criminal is $33,000 per year. 11. Economists use people’s willingness-to-pay to avoid crime ridden areas, and average jury awards to estimate the intangible costs of crime. SUGGESTED ANSWER TO THE WEB-BASED QUESTION The latest data indicate that crime on campus has remained stable over last three years in most categories. However, there is cause for concern because the data indicate a large escalation in liquor law violations.