The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Crime and Punishment

  • Isaac Ehrlich
Reference work entry


‘Economics of Crime’ revives an old tradition in economic thought in its reliance on the unifying power of economic analysis to explain human behaviour and resource allocation choices both within and outside the conventional market place. Classical economists such as Beccaria, Paley, and Bentham devoted considerable attention to the explanation of crime in rational economic terms, and to the formulation of optimal rules for punishing offenders, based on utilitarian principles. Motivated, in part, by the rapid growth of reported offences in recent decades, economists have regained interest in the issue. Several studies in the 1960s, notably the seminal work by Becker (1966), have inspired the development of the ‘economic approach to crime’.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isaac Ehrlich
    • 1
  1. 1.