Document Type



Jeremy Roth won first place for the best term paper at the Minnesota Economic Association annual conference in 2009 for this paper. His advisor was Raymond Robertson.


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.

Included in

Economics Commons



© Copyright is owned by author of this document