Giancarlo Spagnolo, 13 August 2012

How to save the banks but not the bankers? This column argues that fines for criminal behaviour in banks are not enough – it may be time to start locking people up.

Arcangelo Dimico, Ola Olsson, Alessia Isopi, 13 May 2012

If it were a business, the Mafia would be one of Italy’s most successful and one of the largest in Europe. But how did it come to be so powerful? This column argues that it began with control of the international lemon trade in the 19th century.

Guglielmo Barone, Gaia Narciso, 05 May 2012

Can organised crime divert public spending? This column presents evidence of the Mafia influencing public transfers and argues that geographically targeted aid should take into account the risk that at least part of the funding feeds into organised crime.

Randi Hjalmarsson, Helena Holmlund, Matthew Lindquist, 29 November 2011

How should society fight crime? This column argues education policy should be part of the answer. Exploiting a Swedish education reform as a source of exogenous variation in years of education, it suggests that one additional year of schooling decreases the likelihood of conviction by 7.5% for males and by 11% for females.

Sendhil Mullainathan, Jens Ludwig, 01 November 2011

According to the famous White House saying, policymakers should never let a crisis go to waste. This column argues that economists shouldn’t do so either. Instead of cursing about cuts in research funding, they should look at cheaper ways to evaluate policy – perhaps through mechanism experiments.

Lance Lochner, 17 October 2011

Given recent budget problems around the world, many governments have proposed sharp cuts to education. What are the likely long-run costs of these cuts? This column reviews a growing body of studies and concludes that crime rates are likely to increase, health and mortality are likely to deteriorate, and political and social institutions may suffer.

Philip Cook, John MacDonald, 10 July 2011

In the US, more people work in private security than in all police forces combined, yet public debate about crime prevention typically looks at the use of public resources to deter, incapacitate, or rehabilitate criminals. This column calls for more discussion of how private action can make policing more effective and reduce the profitability of crime. One such experiment – “business improvement districts” in Los Angeles – has generated remarkable social benefits.

Ben Vollaard, Jan van Ours, 07 July 2011

Potential victims often ward off crime by taking appropriate precautions. This column argues that government policy targeted at strengthening the precautionary response of potential victims can make a big difference. It shows that mandating the installation of burglar-resistant features in residential construction in the Netherlands reduced burglary risk by 26%.

Axel Dreher, Seo-Young Cho, Eric Neumayer, 10 March 2011

According to the US Department of State, there are more than 12 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. This column presents a new index to measure the spread of anti-trafficking policies. It suggests they mainly diffuse across contiguous countries and main trading partners, due to externality effects, and also via political and cultural similarities, due to learning and emulation.

Donato De Rosa, Nishaal Gooroochurn, Holger Görg, 30 August 2010

Does it pay to be corrupt? This column presents evidence from 22 emerging economies in Europe and the former Soviet Union on the effects of corruption on firm productivity. It finds that in a highly corrupt country, bribing officials actually has a negative effect on productivity, whereas in countries with strong institutions, it can open doors that competitors dare not touch.

Ben Vollaard, 05 July 2010

How economically minded are car thieves? This column presents evidence from the Netherlands suggesting that car thieves stay away from cars in unpopular colours because of their relatively low resale value. It argues that driving a car in a bright, uncommon colour such as yellow is a highly effective deterrent against car theft – about as effective as an expensive security device.

Randall Akee, 03 October 2008

The opening of a casino on an American Indian reservation in North Carolina offered a natural experiment to examine the impact of changes in household income on children’s later life outcomes, particularly their educational attainment and involvement in crime. In an interview recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Milan in August 2008, Randall Akee of IZA talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the findings.

Esther Duflo, 18 August 2008

China’s one-child policy led to an explosion of the boy-girl ratio in the ‘80s and ‘90s. As this “only child” generation reaches adulthood, problems – including rising crime rates – are starting to appear.

Fritz Foley, 05 August 2008

Crime rises when US welfare recipients run short of cash at the end of the month. This column discusses research that links the timing of financially-motivated crime and the timing of welfare payments. Cities that make monthly welfare payments see a clear monthly crime cycle, whereas cities that spread out the payments do not.

Eric Gould, Todd Kaplan, 05 November 2007

The importance of environment and how workers affect the productivity of co-workers through learning valuable skills and work habits is often stressed, but whether employees sometimes learn unethical practices from their peers in order to boost productivity is less well documented. The authors of CEPR DP6550 find that once a worker adopts questionable methods - which seem to be effective, competitive pressures may lead others to follow in order to get ahead, or perhaps just to stay even with other workers who are adopting similar techniques.

Mirko Draca, Stephen Machin, Robert Witt, 06 August 2007

The reverse causality problem makes it difficult to test empirically the impact of additional police on crime rates. The massive re-deployment of police after the July 2005 London bombings provides a natural experiment that gets around this. Results show that more police do indeed reduce crime.

Francesco Drago, Roberto Galbiati, Pietro Vertova, 30 July 2007

Among the many factors that influence the decision to commit a crime, public law and sanctioning activity play a crucial role. The authors of CEPR DP6401 find that among their dataset in Italy an additional month of expected punishment reduces the propensity to recommit a crime by 1.24%.

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