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Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses

Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 43-67, Winter 1996

26 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2008  

Isaac Ehrlich

State University of New York at Buffalo - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Chicago - University of Chicago Press; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Date Written: 1996

Abstract

Crime is a subject of intense emotions, conflicting ideologies. However, economists have generally explained it as a reflection of individual choice and equilibrating market forces. Two major themes of the literature are outlined: the evolution of a 'market model' to explain the diversity of crime across time and space, and the debate about the usefulness of 'positive' versus 'negative' incentives. Systematic analyses generally indicate that crime is affected on the margin by both positive and negative incentives; there are serious limitations to the effectiveness of incapacitation and rehabilitation; and optimal enforcement strategies involve trade-offs between narrow efficiency and equity considerations.

Keywords: crime, deterrence, law and economics, justice, human resources

Suggested Citation

Ehrlich, Isaac, Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses (1996). Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 43-67, Winter 1996. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=961591

Isaac Ehrlich (Contact Author)

State University of New York at Buffalo - Department of Economics ( email )

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Buffalo, NY 14260
United States
716-645 2121 (Phone)
716-645 2127 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://economics.buffalo.edu/people/ehrlich/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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University of Chicago - University of Chicago Press ( email )

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Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

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