Encyclopedia of Law and Economics

2019 Edition
| Editors: Alain Marciano, Giovanni Battista Ramello

Crime and Punishment (Becker 1968)

  • Jean-Baptiste FleuryEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7753-2_17

Definition

Gary Becker’s 1968 “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach” is one of the first papers using economics to address the questions of crime and law enforcement. To Becker, crime generates costs to society, but fighting crime is also costly. There is, therefore, an optimal amount of crime which minimizes society’s total loss and which can be attained by setting the optimal levels of punishment and probability of apprehension and conviction. From that analysis, Becker further claims that the role of criminal law and law enforcement policies should be limited to the minimization of society’s loss. Crime is, therefore, framed as an external effect, and criminal law’s purpose is redefined as the activity of assessing the harm incurred by crime in order to enforce optimal compensation.

Becker’s 1968 “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach”

Gary Becker’s 1968 “Crime and Punishment: an Economic Approach” is one of the first articles by a modern economist (post-World War II) to...

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References

  1. Becker GS (1968) Crime and punishment: an economic approach. J Polit Econ 76(2):169–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  3. Polinsky M, Shavell S (2000) The economic theory of public enforcement of law. J Econ Lit 38(1):45–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Posner RA (1985) An economic theory of the criminal law. Columbia Law Rev 85(6):1193–1231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Posner RA (1993) Gary Becker’s contributions to law and economics. J Leg Stud 22(2):211–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.THEMA, University of Cergy-PontoiseCergy-PontoiseFrance