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The Aggregate Cost of Crime in the United States

David Anderson

Journal of Law and Economics, 2021, vol. 64, issue 4, 857 - 885

Abstract: Estimates of crime’s burden inform public and private decisions about crime-prevention measures. More than counts of criminal offenses, the aggregate cost of crime conveys the scale of problems from crime and the value of deterrence. This article offers an estimate of the total annual cost of crime in the United States, including the direct costs of law enforcement, criminal justice, and victims’ losses and the indirect costs of private deterrence, fear and agony, and time lost to avoidance and recovery. The findings update crime-cost estimates of past decades while expanding the scope of coverage to include categories missing from past studies. The estimated annual cost of crime is $4.71–$5.76 trillion including transfers from victims to criminals and $2.86–$3.92 trillion net of transfers.

Date: 2021
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