1. The economic approach to crime assumes that criminals are rational and then predicts that when the costs of committing a crime are higher there will be fewer crimes. Some basic work in this area would be:

Barnett, Randy E. and John Hagel, Assessing the Criminal: Restitution, Retribution, and the Legal Process, Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Co., 1977. Examines the role of restitution as a means of deterring crime.

Becker, Gary S., "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, 76 (1968), pp. 169-217. A classic in the field.

Becker, Gary S. and George J. Stigler, "Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers," Journal of Legal Studies, 3 (1974), pp.

DiIulio, Jr., John J., "Help Wanted: Economists, Crime, and Public Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 10:1 (Winter 1996), pp. 3-24.

Ehrlich, Isaac, "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 10:1 (Winter 1996), pp. 43-67.

Fletcher, George P., "A Transaction Theory of Crime?" Columbia Law Review, 85 (1985), pp. 921-30.

Freeman, Richard B., " Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do About It?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 10:1 (Winter 1996), pp. 25-42.

Friedman, David and William Sjostrom, "Hanged for a Sheep: The Economics of Marginal Deterrence," Journal of Legal Studies, 22:2 (June 1993), pp. 345-66.

Friedman, David, "Rational Criminals and Profit-Maximizing Police: Gary Becker's Contribution to the Economic Analysis of Law and Law Enforcement," in The New Economics of Human Behavior, by Mariano Tommasi and Kathryn Ierulli, editors, Cambridge University Press, 1995, pp. 43-58.

Klevorick, Alvin K., "On the Economic Theory of Crime," Criminal Justice, edited by J. Roland Pennock and John Chapman, Nomos v. 27, NYU Press, 1985, pp. 289-344.

Lattimore, Pamela K., et. al., "Homicide in Eight U.S. Cities: Trends, Context, and Policy Implications," National Institute of Justice, December 1997. See especially Chapters 5 and 6 which examine the effect of drug prohibition, guns, and gangs on the urban homicide rates in the 8 cities studied and the criminal justice system's response to these problems.

Luksetich, William A. and Michael D. White, Crime and Public Policy: An Economic Approach, Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1982.

Niskanen, William A., "Crime, Police, and Root Causes," Policy Analysis No.218, Cato Institute, November 14, 1994, pp. 1-22.

Parkin, Michael, "The Economics of Crime," Economic Times: An Economic Journal of World Events, 4:1 (Spring 1995), pp. 2-48.

Reynolds, Morgan O., "Crime Pays, But So Does Imprisonment," National Center for Policy Analysis Policy Report No. 149, March 1990, pp. 1-21.

Rogers III, A. J., The Economics of Crime, Hinsdale: Dryden Press, 1973.

Rottenberg, Simon, The Economics of Crime and Punishment, Washington: American Enterprise Institute, 1979.

Rubenstein, Edward, "The Economics of Crime," Imprimis, 24:8 (August 1995), pp. 1-4.

Rubin, Paul, "The Economics of Crime," Atlantic Economic Review, 43 (July/August 1978), pp.

Sedgwick, Jeffrey L., Deterring Criminals: Policy Making and the American Political Tradition, American Enterprise Institute Studies in Economic Policy, 1980.

Wright, James D., "The Armed Criminal in America," Research in Brief, National Institute of Justice, November 1986, pp. 1-5. A summary of Wright's 70+ page article published by NIJ.

2. More general approaches stress a multitude of causes of crime. The flavor of this approach can be obtained by reading any of the following:
Carlson, Allan and Christopher Check, "Culture and Crime," Independent Policy Report, Independent Institute, 1996, pp. 1-41.

Wilson, James Q. Thinking About Crime, New York: Vintage Books (Revised Edition), 1983.

Wilson, James Q., Ed., Crime and Public Policy, San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies Press, 1983.

Wilson, James Q. and Richard Herrnstein, Crime and Human Nature, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985.

Woodson, Robert L., ed., Youth Crime and Urban Policy, Washington: American Enterprise Institute, 1981.

3. An interesting perspective on violence in the Old American West can be found in the following:
Anderson, Terry L. and P. J. Hill, "An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: The Not So Wild, Wild West," Journal of Libertarian Studies, 3 (1979), pp. 11-29.

Benson, Bruce L., "Appendix to Chapter 12: Violence and Vigilante Justice in the American West," The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State, San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute, 1990, pp. 312-323.

McGrath, Roger D., Gunfighters, Highwaymen, and Vigilantes: Violence on the Frontier, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.

Umbeck, John R., A Theory of Property Rights With Application to the California Gold Rush, Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1981.

4. A detailed analysis of our misguided prison policy can be found in the following:
Kopel, David B., "Prison Blues: How America's Foolish Sentencing Policies Endanger Public Safety," Policy Analysis No. 208, Cato Institute, May 17, 1994, pp. 1-60.
5. More recently, some significant research in the area of the economics of crime has explored why our publicly provided criminal justice system does such a poor job of deterring crime. The possibilities of more effective private alternatives to a public criminal justice system are explored in:
Benson, Bruce L., The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State, San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute, 1990.

Benson, Bruce L., "Crime Control Through Private Enterprise," The Independent Review, 2:3 (Winter 1998), pp. 341-71.

Blackstone, Erwin A. and Simon Hakim, "Police Services: The Private Challenge," Independent Policy Report, The Independent Institute, 1996, pp. 1-36.

Dorffi, Christine, "San Francisco's Hired Guns," Reason, August 1979, pp. 26-29, 33.

Elliott, Nicholas, "The Growth of Privatized Policing," The Freeman, February 1991, pp. 61-63.

Evers, Williamson M., "Victims' Rights, Restitution, and Retribution," Independent Policy Report, The Independent Institute, 1996, pp. 1-46.

Gage, Theodore J., "Getting Street-wise in St. Louis," Reason, August 1981, pp. 18-26.

Gage, Theodore J., "Cops, Inc.," Reason, November 1982, pp. 23-28.

Poole, Robert, "Police," Cutting Back City Hall, Universe Books, 1980, pp. 37-50.

6. The War on Drugs has stimulated several interesting articles on the economics of crime. For examples see:
Benson, Bruce L., Iljoong Kim, David Rasmussen, and Thomas W. Zuehlke, "Is Property Crime Caused by Drug Use or Drug Policy Enforcement?" Applied Economics 24 (July 1992), pp. 670-92.

Benson, Bruce L., and David Rasmussen, "Relationship Between Illicit Drug Enforcement Policy and Property Crimes," Contemporary Policy Issues, 9 (October 1991) pp. 106-115.

Benson, Bruce L., David L. Sollars, and David W. Rasmussen, "Drug Enforcement and Deterrence of Property Crime Among Local Jurisdictions" Public Finance Quarterly, 22:1, January 1994, pp. 22-45.

These three articles present evidence indicating that the diversion of police resources into the War on Drugs lowers the number of resources devoted to solving property crimes so that the cost of committing such crimes has decreased and the predictable result has occurred: an increase in property crime.

Rasmussen, David W.,Bruce L. Benson, and David L. Sollars, "Spatial Competition in Illicit Drug Markets: The Consequences of Increased Drug Enforcement," Review of Regional Studies, 23:3 (Winter 1993), pp. 219-36.

This article presents evidence indicating that increased enforcement efforts in one jurisdiction in Florida are associated with increased crime rates in adjoining jurisdictions. The higher cost of committing a crime apparently causes perpetrators to move to other jurisdictions where the cost of crime is lower.

Miron, Jeffery A., "Violence and U. S. Prohibitions of Drugs and Alcohol," NBER Working Paper 6950, February 1999, pp. 1-40.

This article examines evidence which indicates that prohibitions of alcohol and drugs in this country have significantly increased the violence in the markets for the prohibited substances.

Benson, Bruce L. and David Rasmussen, The Economic Anatomy of a Drug War: Criminal Justice in the Commons, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1994. Develops an analysis of the drug war and provides detailed empirical evidence on a wide range of issues associated with this war. One of the best books on this topic.

7. Articles in area of juvenile crime stress the role of expungement policy and the drug war in explaining the explosion in juvenile crime in recent years. See:
Funk, T. Marcus, "A Mere Youthful Indiscretion? Reexamining the Policy of Expunging Juvenile Delinquency Records," University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, 29 (1996), pp. 885-938.

Funk, T. Marcus, and Daniel D. Polsby, "The Problem of Lemons and Why We Must Retain Juvenile Crime Records," Cato Journal, 18:1 (Spring/Summer 1998), pp. 75-83.

Funk, T. Marcus, and Daniel D. Polsby, "Distributional Consequences of Juvenile Delinquency Records: The Problem of Lemons," Washington University Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law, 52 (1997), pp. 161-86.

Kopel, David B., "Crime: The Inner City Crisis," n.d., pp. 1-10. This article can be found on-line at:

Staley, Sam, "Chapter 5: Drug Trafficking as an Understandable Market Response: Urban Youth and the Drug Economy," in Drug Policy and the Decline of American Cities, New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1992, pp. 119-44.