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The Economics of Crime

Lessons For and From Latin America

Crime rates in Latin America are among the highest in the world, creating climates of fear and lawlessness in several countries. Despite this situation, there has been a lack of systematic effort to study crime in the region or the effectiveness of policies designed to tackle it. The Economics of Crime is a powerful corrective to this academic blind spot and makes an important contribution to the current debate on causes and solutions by applying lessons learned from recent developments in the economics of crime.
The Economics of Crime addresses a variety of topics, including the impact of kidnappings on investment, mandatory arrest laws, education in prisons, and the relationship between poverty and crime. Utilizining research from within and without Latin America, this book illustrates the broad range of approaches that have been efficacious in studying crime in both developing and developed nations. The Economics of Crime is a vital text for researchers, policymakers, and students of both crime and of Latin American economic policy.

536 pages | 95 figures, 106 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2010

National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report

Economics and Business: Economics--Development, Growth, Planning

Table of Contents



Rafael Di Tella, Sebastian Edwards, and Ernesto Schargrodsky

I. Overview: Latin American Exceptionalism?

1. Understanding High Crime Rates in Latin America: The Role of Social and Policy Factors

Rodrigo R. Soares and Joana Naritomi

Comment: Alejandro Gaviria

II. The Economics of Crime Meets Latin America

2. Capital Crimes: Kidnappings and Corporate Investment in Colombia

Rony Pshisva and Gustavo A. Suarez

Comment: Juan Pantano

3. The Cost of Avoiding Crime: The Case of Bogotá

Alejandro Gaviria, Carlos Medina, Leonardo Morales, and Jairo Núñez

Comment: Alfredo Canavese

4. Do Conflicts Create Poverty Traps? Asset Losses and Recovery for Displaced Households in Colombia

Ana María Ibáñez and Andrés Moya

Comment: Martín González-Rozada

5. Crime Distribution and Victim Behavior during a Crime Wave

Rafael Di Tella, Sebastian Galiani, and Ernesto Schargrodsky

Comment: Lucas Ronconi

6. Assessing São Paulo’s Large Drop in Homicides: The Role of Demography and Policy Interventions

João M. P. de Mello and Alexandre Schneider

Comment: Lucas Llach

7. The Quality of Life in Prisons: Do Educational Programs Reduce In- Prison Conflicts?

María Laura Alzúa, Catherine Rodriguez, and Edgar Villa

Comment: Andrés Borenstein

III. International Evidence

8. What Do Economists Know about Crime?

Angela K. Dills, Jeffrey A. Miron, and Garrett Summers

Comment: Philip J. Cook

9. Peaceable Kingdoms and War Zones: Preemption, Ballistics, and Murder in Newark

Brendan O’Flaherty and Rajiv Sethi

Comment: Guillermo Cruces

10. Crime Displacement and Police Interventions: Evidence from London’s “Operation Theseus”

Mirko Draca, Stephen Machin, and Robert Witt

Comment: Catherine Rodriguez

11. The Impact of Incentives on Human Behavior: Can We Make It Disappear? The Case of the Death Penalty

Naci Mocan and Kaj Gittings

Comment: Lucía Quesada

12. Does Arrest Deter Violence? Comparing Experimental and Nonexperimental Evidence on Mandatory Arrest Laws

Radha Iyengar

Comment: Rafael Di Tella


Author Index

Subject Index

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