Magazine article Corrections Forum

New Study Estimates the Annual Cost of Crime to Be $3.2 Trillion

Magazine article Corrections Forum

New Study Estimates the Annual Cost of Crime to Be $3.2 Trillion

Article excerpt

Centre College

"The Cost of Crime," a new study by David A. Anderson, Centre College's Paul G. Blazer Professor of Economics, quantifies the burden of crime by estimating the annual cost of crime in the United States. The study appears in Foundations and Trends in Microeconomics, Vol. 7: No 3.

Many studies measure crime by looking at raw numbers of thefts, murders and other criminal activities. Anderson warns that these numbers can be misleading, especially when the number of crimes goes in one direction while the severity of crimes goes in the other. For example, Anderson notes that "a recent decrease in the number of thefts was accompanied by such a large increase in the average amount stolen that total victim losses actually increased." Anderson says that scale issues make cost a better gauge of crime's burden than counts of crimes.

Studies that do look at the cost of crime tend to focus on direct costs - dollars worth of stolen items, policing costs and the cost of the prison system. Yet Anderson finds that most of the costs of crime are indirect and include the opportunity cost of time, the costs of fear and agony, and private expenditures on crime prevention. …

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