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Working Paper

On the Political Economy of Income Redistribution and Crime

In this paper, we consider a general equilibrium model in which heterogeneous agents specialize either in legitimate market activities or in criminal activities, and majority rule determines the share of income redistributed and the expenditures devoted to the apprehension of criminals. We calibrate our model to the U.S. economy in 1990, and conduct simulation exercises to evaluate the effectiveness of expenditures on police protection and income redistribution at reducing crime. We find that while expenditures on police protection reduce crime, it is possible for the crime rate to increase with redistribution. We also show that economies which adopt relatively more generous redistribution policies may have either higher or lower crime rates than economies with relatively less generous redistribution policies, depending on the characteristics of their wage distribution and on the efficiency of their apprehension technology.

Suggested Citation

Imrohoroglu, Ayse, Antonio Merlo, and Peter Rupert. 1996. “On the Political Economy of Income Redistribution and Crime.” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Working Paper No. 96-09.