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Working Paper

Understanding the Determinants of Crime

In this paper, we use an overlapping generations model where individuals are allowed to engage in both legitimate market activities and criminal behavior in order to assess the role of certain factors on the property crime rate. In particular, we investigate if any of the following could be capable of generating the large differences in crime rates that are observed across countries: differences in the unemployment rate, the fraction of low-human-capital individuals in an economy, the probability of apprehension, the duration of jail sentences, and income inequality. We find that small differences in the probability of apprehension and in income inequality can generate quantitatively significant differences in the crime rates across similar environments.

Suggested Citation

Imrohoroglu, Ayse, Antonio Merlo, and Peter Rupert. 2006. “Understanding the Determinants of Crime.” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Working Paper No. 06-02.