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An Experimental Test of Criminal Behavior Among Juveniles and Young Adults

Michael Visser (), William Harbaugh () and Naci Mocan

University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers from University of Oregon Economics Department

Abstract: We report results from economic experiments that provide a direct test of the hypothesis that criminal behavior responds rationally to changes in the possible rewards and in the probability and severity of punishment. The experiments involve decisions that are best described as petty larceny, and are done using high school and college students who can anonymously take real money from each other. We find that decisions about whether and how much to steal are, in general, rational and responsive to the variations in tradeoffs, and sometimes, though not always, to the overall availability of criminal opportunities.

Keywords: crime; rational choice; revealed preference (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp and nep-soc
Date: 2006-08-18
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