This paper develops an econometric model of crime using cross-sectional data for 2,728 U.S. counties in the year 2000. From the debate over the role of rationality in decisions based on heavy future discounting, I present a theoretical calculation for all costs faced by an individual deciding whether to commit a crime. This definition allows me to suggest a new variable for the economic study of crime, absent from the expansive body of literature available: the number of years an individual is expected to live. I find strong evidence that a higher perceived life expectancy has a negative impact on violent and property crime rates that carries both statistical and economic significance. Facing possible specification and omitted variable biases, I subject my results to robustness checks that provide encouraging results and a foundation for further research into the economic underpinnings of criminal behaviors.
Roth, Jeremy, "Does Perceiving a Shorter Life Expectancy Make You More Likely to Commit a Crime?" (2009). Award Winning Economics Papers. Paper 6.
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