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The Economics of Crime by Zagros Madjd-Sadjadi

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CHAPTER 2

Are Criminals Rational? Gary Becker’s Rational Criminal Thesis

A criminal breaks into your home and steals something. You, of course, are upset but the impact on the overall economy is nonexistent. The sole effect is a resource transfer from you to the burglar. Property crimes can be thought of as transactions without trade—they are pure transfers of wealth from one person to another and are, at least in some fashion, no different from taxing one individual (the victim) to pay another (the criminal). However, crime does not exist in a static vacuum. Repercussions of criminal activity lead individuals to expend resources to prevent or mitigate it. People might install burglar alarms, hire a security company, purchase a weapon for protection, ...

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