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Crime and Punishment: an Economic Approach

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Abstract

Since the turn of the twentieth century, legislation in Western countries has expanded rapidly to reverse the brief dominance of laissez faire during the nineteenth century. The state no longer merely protects against violations of person and property through murder, rape, or burglary but also restricts ‘discrimination’ against certain minorities, collusive business arrangements, ‘jaywalking’, travel, the materials used in construction, and thousands of other activities. The activities restricted not only are numerous but also range widely, affecting persons in very different pursuits and of diverse social backgrounds, education levels, ages, races, etc. Moreover, the likelihood that an offender will be discovered and convicted and the nature and extent of punishments differ greatly from person to person and activity to activity. Yet, in spite of such diversity, some common properties are shared by practically all legislation, and these properties form the subject matter of this essay.

Keywords

  • Marginal Cost
  • Economic Approach
  • Economic Dimension
  • Prison Sentence
  • Marginal Revenue

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This chapter was originally published in the Journal of Political Economy, 76(2) (1968), pp. 169–217, and is reproduced by kind permission of the University of Chicago Press.

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© 1968 University of Chicago Press

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Becker, G.S. (1968). Crime and Punishment: an Economic Approach. In: Fielding, N.G., Clarke, A., Witt, R. (eds) The Economic Dimensions of Crime. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-62853-7_2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-62853-7_2

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

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