Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is crime a habit?

Why are there repeat offender and career criminals? The obvious answers would be that this is where there comparative advantage is, or that they have nothing to lose once they served the first sentence. But what about crime being addicting?

This is what Vladimir Kuhl Teles and Joaquim Andrade explore what would happen if utility exhibit habit formation. Note surprisingly, it affects positively criminal activity. Note sure that this is very convincing. But the authors also embed an interaction with capital: Higher capital increases the rewards of crime, but also increases the opportunity cost of crime, the latter less apparently. Thus one should see more crime in capital-intensive locations, say cities, where habit formation is also easier. We should thus see more career criminals in cities. And I thought it was all about the anonymity that cities provide.

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