Encyclopedia of Law and Economics

2019 Edition
| Editors: Alain Marciano, Giovanni Battista Ramello

Crime, Unemployment and

  • Kangoh LeeEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7753-2_684


Crime is one of the most important social issues citizens are concerned about. As such, it has received a good deal of attention from policymakers and scholars across fields such as criminology, economics, law, psychology, and sociology. Crime is partly motivated by economic conditions, and a large body of research has studied the relationship between economic factors, particularly unemployment, and crime for more than 50 years. Available evidence shows that the relationship is ambiguous, and it is an actively researched topic.


Crime was first analyzed by economists in the late 1960s and early 1970s (e.g., Becker 1968; Ehrlich 1973). The analysis is based on the cost and benefit of crime. The cost to an individual who commits property crime is the lost legitimate incomes and the penalties when crime is caught, and the stolen properties and incomes constitute the benefit (see Anderson 2017for a general discussion of the cost). The individual then compares the...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA