Unemployment and crime: the role of apprehension
Kangoh Lee ()
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Kangoh Lee: San Diego State University
European Journal of Law and Economics, 2018, vol. 45, issue 1, No 3, 59-80
Abstract An increase in the unemployment rate decreases the opportunity cost of crime and increases the crime rate according to standard microeconomics models. However, a large body of empirical research has shown that an increase in unemployment may increase or decrease crime. By incorporating the return to crime into standard economic models, this paper shows that an increase in unemployment, as in recessions, decreases the opportunity cost of crime and the return to crime as well. As a result, the effect of unemployment on crime is ambiguous and depends on the apprehension rate. An increase in the unemployment rate tends to decrease the crime rate at lower apprehension rates, but to increase it at higher apprehension rates. An increase in the generosity of unemployment insurance benefits does not necessarily reduce the crime rate, and the effect of more generous unemployment insurance on crime depends again on the apprehension rate.
Keywords: Unemployment; Crime; Apprehension (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J64 K42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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