New Evidence on the Monetary Value of Saving a High Risk Youth

59 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2007 Last revised: 19 Nov 2012

See all articles by Mark A. Cohen

Mark A. Cohen

Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics; Vanderbilt University - Law School; Resources for the Future

Alex R. Piquero

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences; Griffith University

Date Written: December 2007


There is growing interest in crime prevention through early youth interventions; yet, the standard United States response to the crime problem, particularly among juveniles, has been to increase the use and resource allocation allotted toward punishment and incapacitation and away from prevention and treatment. At the same time, longitudinal studies of delinquency and crime have repeatedly documented a strong link between past and future behavior and have identified a small subset of offenders who commit a large share of criminal offenses. These findings suggest that if these offenders can be identified early and correctly and provided with prevention and treatment resources early in the life course, their criminal activity may be curtailed. While researchers have studied these offenders in great detail, little attention has been paid to the costs they exert on society. This paper provides estimates of the cost of crime imposed on society by high risk youth. Our approach follows and builds upon the early framework and basic methodology developed by Cohen (1998), by using new estimates of the costs of individual crimes, ones that are more comprehensive and that significantly increased the monetary cost per crime. We also use new estimates on the underlying offending rate for high risk juvenile offenders.

Keywords: costs of crime, high risk youth, criminal careers, crime policy

JEL Classification: K42, J18, I21

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Mark A. and Piquero, Alex R., New Evidence on the Monetary Value of Saving a High Risk Youth (December 2007). Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 08-07. Available at SSRN: or

Mark A. Cohen (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States
615-322-0533 (Phone)

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Vanderbilt University - Law School

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Resources for the Future ( email )

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Alex R. Piquero

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences ( email )

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Richardson, TX 75080
United States
972-883-2482 (Phone)
972-883-6572 (Fax)

Griffith University

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Nathan, Queensland QLD 4111

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