The Aggregate Burden of Crime

57 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 1999

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 1999


This study estimates the total annual cost of criminal behavior in the United States. While past research has typically focused on particular costs, regions, or crime categories, this general study estimates all of the direct and indirect costs of every type of crime for the entire nation. In addition to aggregating expenses commonly associated with unlawful activity, it considers ancillary costs that have not yet been included into an overall formula for the cost of crime. Beyond the expenses of the legal system, victim losses, and crime-prevention agencies, the burden of crime includes the opportunity costs of victims', criminals', and prisoners' time, the fear of being victimized, and the cost of private deterrence. More accurate information on the repercussions of crime could guide our legal, political, and cultural stance towards crime and allow informed prioritization of programs that curtail criminal activity. The net annual burden of crime is found to exceed $1 trillion.

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Anderson, David Anton, The Aggregate Burden of Crime (January 1999). Available at SSRN: or

David Anton Anderson (Contact Author)

Centre College ( email )

600 West Walnut Street
Department of Economics
Danville, KY 40422
United States
859-238-5282 (Phone)
859-238-5774 (Fax)


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