Encyclopedia of Law and Economics

2019 Edition
| Editors: Alain Marciano, Giovanni Battista Ramello

Criminal Constitutions

  • Nicholas A. SnowEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7753-2_15

Definition

Criminal constitutions exist in a number of different criminal enterprises, from the Golden Age of Pirates to modern prison and street gangs. The purpose of these constitutions is to better facilitate cooperation among organizational members in order to help better achieve profit maximization.

Criminal Constitutions

It is easy to imagine criminal organizations being composed of lawless, all out for their own chaotic individuals but this is far from the truth. From an economic perspective, especially since Gary Becker’s famous 1968 publication, Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach, the starting point for analyzing criminal behavior is to assume that criminals are rational agents. From this perspective, it is not surprising to find that many black markets and other criminal organizations are extremely orderly and rational. This is, of course, not to say that they are desirable or morally good but if we are to truly understand criminal organization it is important to...

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References

  1. Becker GS (1968) Crime and punishment: an economic approach. J Polit Econ 76(2):169–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Engelmann L (1979) Intemperance: the lost war against liquor. Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Jankowski MS (1991) Islands in the street: gangs and American Urban Society. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  4. Leeson PT (2009) The invisible hook: the hidden economics of pirates. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  5. Leeson PT, Skarbek D (2010) Criminal constitutions. Glob Crime 11(3):279–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Skarbek D (2014) The social order of the underworld: how prison gangs govern the American penal system. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Further Reading

  1. McCarthy DMP (2011) An economic history of organized crime: a national and transnational approach. Routledge, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Reuter P (1985) The organization of illegal markets: an economic analysis. U.S. Department of Justice: National Institute of Justice, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA