Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Economics of Crime

A Category Archive (92 entries)

Intertemporal Corruption

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
When I was an undergrad at UC Berkeley, there was an informal norm about professors dating their students: Just wait until after the final exam.  Professors dating their current students?  A recipe for corruption.  Professors dating their recent students?  Only... MORE

Best of the Blogs

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
A few highlights from blog posts today that caught my eye. Understatement of the Day Award Tyler Cowen: "The first volume of 949 pp. [of a biography of Stalin] brings the reader up only until 1928. A lot still happened... MORE

Imprisoning Immigrants

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
If you read the tables in my last post carefully, you might have noticed that 10.6% of federal inmates - over 20,000 people - are serving time for immigration offenses.  This seems very weird.  Stereotypes say that illegal immigrants are... MORE

The "War on Drugs" and crime rates

Economics of Crime
Scott Sumner
Bryan Caplan has a new post discussing the impact of drug legalization on the overall crime rate. In the absence of the War on Drugs, many non-drug offenses would never have been committed. Without prohibition, gang-related violence - and related... MORE

There are over 1.5 million people in American jails and prisons.  Why are they there?  Take a look at the latest numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.  Here is the offense breakdown for state-level incarceration for 2012, which continues... MORE

Most of the payoff from education comes from credentials, not mere years of class time, a regularity known as the sheepskin effect.  A quick look at crime as a function of education suggests a strong sheepskin effect for crime as... MORE

I doubt The Case Against Education will spend more than two pages on the effect of education on crime.  But I've already spent a month getting ready to write those two pages.  Why so long?  Because (a) so much has... MORE

Is Violence Against Women Ever OK?

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
Of course, it is. I'm glad that co-blogger Bryan Caplan has introduced us to Scott Alexander. I had never come across him before, but I found most of the long piece that Bryan referred to refreshingly thoughtful. There is so... MORE

Crime and Sheepskins

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Criminals are poorly educated.  About 68% of state inmates dropped out of high school.  Many researchers study whether this effect is causal.  As usual, though, I'm more interested in whether the causal effect stems from signaling.  Education could reduce crime... MORE

Prosecuting Truancy

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
How are compulsory attendance laws actually enforced?  A preliminary search turned up some surprising claims, especially this:Truancy charges can result in large fines, jail time, and a criminal record for students in Texas--one of only two states (along with Wyoming)... MORE

Causation

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
Which cause should we focus on? One of my favorite editorial writers for the Wall Street Journal, Mary O'Grady, writes (in "A Terrorist Big Fish Gets Away" in the August 11 print edition): America's voracious appetite for illegal drugs has... MORE

Prohibition: Then versus Now

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
This will likely be my final post about Daniel Okrent's excellent book The Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. This one, appropriately enough, is about the fall and some of the factors that led to it. There's a... MORE

Setting the Record Straight on George Will

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
The wife of a friend of mine wrote a letter to a local publication, the Monterey County Weekly, in which she badly misquoted George Will's recent statement in a column about victimization on campus. My reply to her letter was... MORE

Obama is to the right of Texas on pot legalization

Economics of Crime
Scott Sumner
Here is just one example of the Obama administration's reefer madness: Robert Duncan, who managed marijuana-growing for a collective of Northern California medical marijuana dispensaries, surrendered to federal prison Monday, where he will serve a two-year sentence. Speaking to... MORE

The Daily Hell of the War on Drugs

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
It's an urgent situation, because Professor Goffman's book shows clearly that the microeconomics of a life on the run are grim indeed. This is the closing paragraph of Tyler Cowen's excellent piece, "The Financial Hazards of a Fugitive Life," New... MORE

A Few Dangers of Heroin Prohibition

Economics of Crime
James Schneider
In a recent post, David Henderson commented on how people view the horrors of drugs: But what so few people seem to understand is that virtually all their horror stories about drugs occurred during a time when drugs were illegal....But... MORE

Endogeneity and the Drug War

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
Why the things that happened during the drug war are not a good argument FOR the drug war. And the things that happened BECAUSE of the drug war are a fortiori not an argument for the drug war. Last fall,... MORE

Is Outrage at the Top 1% Distracting Us?

Income Distribution
David Henderson
I worry about growing income inequality. But I worry even more that the discussion is too narrowly focused. I worry that our outrage at the top 1 percent is distracting us from the problem that we should really care about:... MORE

How Will Legalizing Marijuana Impact Hard Drug Use?

Economics of Crime
James Schneider
Recently Megan McArdle discussed whether legalizing pot would reduce hard drug use. Under marijuana prohibition, the buyer must enter an illegal drug market. The seller is likely to offer harder drugs for sale. By legalizing marijuana but keeping hard drugs... MORE

11-99 Foundation: Buying Protection

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
I live in California, where I often see license plate frames carrying the words, "Lifetime Member, 11-99 Foundation." The frames are usually on newer-model luxury cars. I finally got curious enough to look up what the 11-99 Foundation is. Here's... MORE

Welcome to the Police State

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
If all you've got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. And if police and prosecutors are your only tool, sooner or later everything and everyone will be treated as criminal. This is increasingly the American... MORE

Freedom of Speech: True and False

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
But, as a number of commentators (including conservatives) have pointed out, the First Amendment is irrelevant to the Duck Dynasty imbroglio for a very different reason. While constitutional protections for speech certainly extend to bigots, they protect only against government... MORE

Paul Gregory's Case Against JFK Assassination Conspiracy

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
David Henderson
The New York Times versus the New York Times I have known Hoover colleague, economist Paul Gregory, for about 5 years, and gotten to know him better in the last 3. An expert on Russia's economy and increasingly on China's... MORE

Based upon last fall's Humanomics course, Gus Gradinger and I are submitting the following chapter proposal for a book on teaching with The Wire. If it doesn't fit with the editors' vision for the volume, we plan to work out... MORE

Les Miserables

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
I remember reading an excerpt from Victor Hugo's famous novel in a high-school class in Carman, Manitoba. I came home and told my mother about this story of a man who had been given a long prison sentence for stealing... MORE

Long-time readers of EconLog will know that most of the common objections to increased immigration are simply wrong. For review, here's Ben Powell's explanation of how immigrants don't wreck our economy, take our jobs, or depress wages. Still, one of... MORE

Ben Powell on the Drug War

Regulation
David Henderson
Economics is a science of means and ends. Thus, the question for economics is whether the means--drug prohibition--is effective in promoting the ends of greater health, safety, and productivity, as well as lower violence and criminal justice costs. In "The... MORE

Prison Sentences: Finally Some Good News

Cross-country Comparisons
David Henderson
One of the scariest facts about the United States is that our governments' rate of incarceration competes for the highest in the world. Why do I say, "competes for" rather than is? Because when a government forcibly keeps its citizens... MORE

On Human Evil: Concrete Down the Drain Edition

Cost-benefit Analysis
Garett Jones
When people have little incentive to behave well, and when nobody is watching, what do people do?  The last few years have given us millions of opportunities to answer that question as people living in foreclosed homes decided whether to... MORE

Yglesias on Narcissism

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
UPDATE: Paul Krugman makes the point that Matt Yglesias and I make. Personal Experience and Principle Various friends on Facebook this morning were celebrating the fact that Republican Senator Robert Portman has come out (no pun intended) in favor of... MORE

How to Recover Your Stolen Car

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
Very cool idea from a former taxi driver on MR:[I]f your car is ever stolen, your first calls should be to every cab company in the city. You offer a $50 reward to the driver who finds it AND a... MORE

Cronyism in D.C.

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
While in D.C. these last few days, I've been following more closely the David Gregory case. In case you haven't, here's a recap. David Gregory, the host of NBC's Meet the Press, displayed an illegal 30-bullet capacity gun magazine on... MORE

Pinpointing Gun Households: A Research Idea

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
I'm guessing that most of you have heard about the Westchester County, New York newspaper that published a comprehensive list of all the households in Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties that were listed with the government as containing a resident... MORE

Betting: Automatic Weapons vs. Rental Cars

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
One thing my co-blogger Bryan and I agree on is that proposing a bet is a good way of making people fess up to whether they're really confident, especially about their extreme statements. Bryan might have said it differently than... MORE

Tyler Cowen often calls Alex Tabarrok the best truth-tracker in Carow Hall.  With good reason.  When I ask Alex questions, he's consistently careful, direct, and accurate.  When I investigate his assertions, they check out.  I trust Alex - even when... MORE

The death penalty has fallen into disfavor in recent years.  But what's the long-run trend?  I've intermittently wondered about this for over a decade.  Last night, I finally decided to check.I found a time series of total U.S. executions from... MORE

The pattern of individual, decentralized human evil I've discussed in recent posts is an underappreciated argument against the welfare state.  If a substantial fraction of the people around us are money-burners and perverse punishers, how much sympathy will voters have... MORE

Victor Davis Hanson on "Bankrupt California"

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
"Bostonian," one of the commenters on my previous post on immigration quoted from an article by my Hoover colleague, Victor Davis Hanson. So I read the whole thing. There's a lot of meaty content, good and weak, in his article,... MORE

The Bottom One Percent

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
UPDATE: Welcome visitors from Instapundit. I blogged briefly about the bottom one percent a few months ago and the Hoover Institution has now published an expanded piece on the issue. Here are the opening paragraphs: We often hear a lot,... MORE

Malcolm X and the Economics of Crime

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
Co-blogger Bryan has done a good job so far of persuading me that my attraction to Malcolm X when I was 26 years old was unjustified. I'm not complaining. It's always good to realize when one's old thinking was wrong,... MORE

John Mueller on Port Security

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
Among other ventures, this concern has led to a rather bizarre, and highly expensive, preoccupation with port security, driven by the assumptions, apparently, 1) that after manufacturing their device at great expense and effort overseas, an atomic terrorist or desperately... MORE

The Psychology of Theft

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
One of my favorite passages from a novel, Assault on a Queen, seems a propos on the weekend during which a lot of people are doing their taxes. For those of you who haven't read it, it's about a small... MORE

The Benefits of Wealth

Regulation
David Henderson
Tyler Cowen has a thoughtful answer to the question, "Does wealth equal power?" (Of course, the obvious answer is "Yes, it equals power over material things but no, it doesn't equal power over other things. It might give one power... MORE

Gun Control: Things I Didn't Know

Regulation
David Henderson
The Ku Klux Klan, Ronald Reagan, and, for most of its history, the NRA all worked to control guns. The Founding Fathers? They required gun ownership--and regulated it. And no group has more fiercely advocated the right to bear loaded... MORE

Immigration and Crime: Tell Me What You See

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
Compare these GAO statistics on "Federal Prison Illegal Alien Inmates" (p.23) to the Bureau of Justice Statistics table on the "Number of Sentenced Inmates in Federal Prisons" (p.10).  Both sets of figures come from c.2003.  Tell me what you see.... MORE

The Numerate John Mueller

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
The public has now endured a decade of dire warnings about the imminence of a terrorist atomic attack. In 2004, the former CIA spook Michael Scheuer proclaimed on television's 60 Minutes that it was "probably a near thing," and in... MORE

Matt Yglesias's Best Post Ever

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
It's short and so I'll quote the whole thing: One doesn't want to lean too heavily on human tragedies to make political points, but since a lot of our politics rightly concerns itself with how to minimize the occurrence of... MORE

Demeanor and Brutality

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A question that came up at the Silver Diner after last night's debate:What fraction of police brutality could have been avoided if the victims has simply been respectful and submissive vis-a-vis the police?The question isn't intended to "blame the victim,"... MORE

Schumer's Nonsensical Solution for Pharmacy Robberies

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
New York. Associated Press. June 26 In the wake of last week's deadly shooting at a Long Island pharmacy, Sen. Charles Schumer says the federal government must work harder to fight prescription drug abuse. Schumer said Sunday that the abuse... MORE

Monterey Sheriff Admits that Drug Raids Engender Fear

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
Yesterday, I wrote the following letter to the Monterey Herald about a local incident that has created a lot of publicity: If reporter Julia Reynolds quoted Sheriff Miller correctly ("Rights Violated, Sergeant Claims," Herald, July 3), then Miller has made... MORE

Prison Rape: Becker-Acton Model Confirmed

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
The latest U.S. Department of Justice National Inmate Survey confirms my earlier report that prison staff commit more prison rape than prisoners.  Lovisa Stannow of Just Detention International boils down the results in Reason:The U.S. Department of Justice recently released... MORE

Three Random Links

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
Jason Collins writes, Incarceration removes young men from the mating market during their mating prime. As the propensity to commit crime is heritable, the removal of criminals from the mating market will reduce the frequency of the genes associated with... MORE

Eric Holder's Cognitive Dissonance

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
NOT from The Onion "Do another Season of The Wire," he [Attorney General Eric Holder] said to cheers. "That's actually at a minimum...if you don't do a season, do a movie. We've done HBO movies, this is a series that... MORE

Crime Statistics and The Village

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Spoilers for a 2004 movie].At the end of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, we discover a bizarre conspiracy: In the 1970s, a group of people whose loved ones were murdered move to the middle of nowhere in order to... MORE

Steven Levitt's "Daughter Test"

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
It wasn't until the U.S. government's crackdown on internet poker last week that I came to realize that the primary determinant of where I stand with respect to government interference in activities comes down to the answer to a simple... MORE

Show Me Compassion: Throw Me in Prison

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
Washington Post columnist and former Bush speech writer, Michael Gerson, gives a strange argument against Ron Paul. Paul had defended people's right to put what they want in their own bodies, up to and including heroin. To make fun of... MORE

The Race Between Technology and Oppression

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
David Henderson
Will Twitter Undercut Censorship? Although I know my vote doesn't matter and I agree with Bryan Caplan about most of his criticisms of democracy, I'm somewhat of a political junkie. So I've been on line all evening watching the highlights... MORE

Jail a Policeman?

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
In his recent post on pacifism, co-blogger Bryan cites an earlier post on the same issue. He wrote: Even if militaries don't deliberately target innocent bystanders, they almost always wind up recklessly endangering their lives. If a policeman fought crime... MORE

Reply to My Critics on Foreign Policy

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
I asked a hypothetical question in my previous post today. I'm glad that Prakhar Goel, one of the three people to whom I addressed the question, was willing to participate. Thank you, Prakhar. And, unlike commenter TA, I don't think... MORE

Question for My Foreign-Policy Critics

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
In the comments on my post yesterday, Prakhar Goel, Patrick R. Sullivan, and Shayne Cook were critical of my views on U.S. foreign policy. All three implicitly or explicitly seemed to favor the U.S. government's attack on Afghanistan in 2001.... MORE

Raico on the Lop-Sided Treatment of Mass Murderers

Politics and Economics
David Henderson
Pointing to Communist crimes is not meant to "trivialize" the destruction of European Jewry, nor can it do so. The massacre of the Jews was one of the worst things that ever happened. But even supposing that it was the... MORE

The Problem of Fraud

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
A reader recommends a paper by William K. Black. "Control fraud" theory explains why the most damaging forms of fraud are situations in which those that control the company or the nation use it as a fraud vehicle. The CEO,... MORE

Mead's Asymmetric Treatment of Illegal Drugs

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
In today's Wall Street Journal appears a "Notable and Quotable" from Walter Russell Mead. It's from a longer post he did about the drug war. Mead's contribution to the discussion is to point out that we should, as a way... MORE

More Gangs, Less Crime

Public Goods
David Henderson
Our analysis suggests not that gangs cause violence, but that violence causes gangs. In other words, gangs form in response to government's failure to protect youths against violence. The surprising implication of our insight is that efforts to reduce gang... MORE

The Medicare Fraud in Our Future

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
In tonight's 60 Minutes episode, the lead item was on the huge amount of Medicare fraud that takes place. Scam artists get lists of patients, lists of expensive items they can bill to Medicare, and a bank account. Then they... MORE

Mark Kleiman on Responsibility

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
In the video on this page, economist Mark Kleiman, whose expertise is on the drug war, tells of an interesting approach taken by a Hawaiian judge to make people keep their promises not to use illegal drugs. If I were... MORE

The Strange Political Economy of Kidnapping

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
In the United States, stereotypical kidnappings are almost non-existent.  But in some Third World countries - especially Latin America - the problem's quite serious.  Mexico's up to 8000 reported kidnappings per year, and experts plausibly claim that over 90% of... MORE

I recently read a paper by Loyola prof (and GMU Ph.D.) Dan D'Amico.  The first part of the paper explained that among crime researchers, there is a strong consensus that the U.S. government is too punitive - even though the... MORE

Hope for Britain?

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
Here's are some excerpts from a speech that Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg gave this week: As we tear through the statute book, we'll do something no government ever has: We will ask you which laws you think should... MORE

Weight Classes for Prisons Revisited

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
I've learned that I'm not the only person to propose weight classes for prisons.  Here's Philip Ellenbogen in the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems:As discussed earlier in this section, a victim of prison rape is often much smaller... MORE

Arizona Immigration Continued

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
David Henderson
I noticed that none of the commenters on my previous post today commented on the merits of my argument. [Actually, commenter #6, Douglass Holmes, did, but that came in after I started writing this post.] I was disappointed. Instead, most... MORE

Arizona Immigration: Battle of the Collectivists

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
David Henderson
Your Papers Please It's not hard for me to take sides on whether police in Arizona should be able to stop people simply on suspicion that they're in the United States illegally. I think this is one more step on... MORE

Why Not? Weight Classes for Prisons

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
Why do we have separate men's and women's prisons?  You don't have to envision the alternative for long to have your answer: Co-ed prisons would be a living hell of rape and brutality. Or perhaps I should say: Even more... MORE

Tyler Cowen on Prohibition

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
Tyler Cowen has written an excellent review of Daniel Okrent's new book, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. Cowen summarizes how the stars lined up in the late nineteen teens for prohibition to occur. One thing he misses,... MORE

Is Bryan Caplan Hypocritical?

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
In a discussion last week about the fact that Bryan Caplan, who opposes government funding of higher education, nevertheless works in a government-funded university, one commenter, Chipotle, wrote: If you were walking home one night and you saw a cat... MORE

Signaling and Jury Duty

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
A junior colleague of mine, Noah Myung, who holds a Ph.D. in economics from Cal Tech, told me the following hilarious story. He was a math/econ major at UCLA and had just completed a course on game theory, taught by... MORE

The Best Sentence of the Week

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
Some students and I, in a special readings class, were working our way through some chapters of David Friedman's law and economics book, Law's Order. In an interesting section where he makes a persuasive case for allowing a market in... MORE

Anderson on Enron

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
One of the views I had accepted uncritically is that all of the people at Enron charged with crimes really were guilty. But Bill Anderson's interesting article today questions some of that. Also, he points out that Fortune reporter Bethany... MORE

A Footnote to the Economics of Crime

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
From Wikipedia:The word "rob" came via French from Late Latin words (e.g. deraubare) of Germanic origin, from Common Germanic raub- = "clothes", as in old times (before modern cheap mechanized mass production of clothes) one main target of robbers was... MORE

Incentives Matter: Prison Rape Edition

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
If I had to serve time, I'd prefer to be sent to a for-profit prison factory.  The main reason: I think my employer would make an effort to protect me from severe abuse.  After all, a victimized indentured servant is... MORE

Fox News Roundup

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
My wife and I watch the Fox News Channel more than any other channel. It's not because we agree with everything, or even most of what, they say. My main reasons are twofold: (1) They bring up issues that the... MORE

Criminal Law in Theory and in Practice

Economics of Crime
Arnold Kling
Cato sent me a copy of In the Name of Justice, edited by Timothy Lynch. It's not my field, so I just read Lynch's introduction. He describes a litany of ways in which our criminal justice system takes away Constitutional... MORE

Markets in Everything

Economics of Crime
David Henderson
Two judges in Pennsylvania are alleged to have taken bribes in return for sentencing teenagers to jail. One case was that of Ms. Hillary Transue: Hillary Transue did not have an attorney, nor was she told of her right to... MORE

The Origin of Singaporean Crime Policy

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
When I was filling out my customs form for Singapore, I was chilled to see the all-capital letters, "DEATH FOR DRUGS IN SINGAPORE."  Philosophically, I have nothing against the death penalty, but of course I have everything against drug prohibition.* ... MORE

Why Do Serial Killers Vastly Outnumber Vigilantes?

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
Serial killers are, contrary to movies and television, incredibly rare. Still, Wikipedia lists well over a hundred convicted serial killers. In contrast, vigilantes (a la the fictional Dexter) are almost non-existent. How many can you name, besides Bernard Goetz, who... MORE

Crime Fiction versus Crime Fact

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
I'd guess that fictional serial killers outnumber real serial killers by at least 100:1. After all, how many movies and t.v. shows are there about serial killers - and how many are there in real life? That's hardly surprising -... MORE

Low-Trust Society?

Economics of Crime
Arnold Kling
Samuel Bowles and Arjun Jayadev write, We distinguished between those who directly or indirectly produce goods and services that we consume—who Adam Smith called productive labor—and those who we term guard labor: the police, private security guards, military personnel and... MORE

Ratio of Violent to Drug Offenders in Jail

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
These official stats surprised even me. Back in 1980, State correctional facilities had 9 violent criminals for every drug offender. By 2003, that ratio was 2.6:1. Clearly, the War on Drugs launched during my teen years was not just rhetoric... MORE

Why Do the Poor Commit More Crime?

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
Most economists have a glib answer: The worse your legal options, the better crime looks. But the more I think about this response, the weaker it seems. Here's a striking fact about crime: A lot of it is almost never... MORE

Libertarians on The Godfather, Part II

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
You've read Somin; now try Peter Klein.... MORE

A Sitdown with The Godfather

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
My collaborator Ilya Somin has a fascinating post on the law and economics of The Godfather. It's a must read. My only quibble is that it overlooks this part: Michael: My father is no different than any powerful man, any... MORE

Mental Health Institutions and Prisons

Economics of Crime
Arnold Kling
Bernard Harcourt writes, we should not be surprised that there are so many persons with mental illness behind bars today. We deal with perceived deviance differently than we did in the past: instead of getting treatment, persons who are viewed... MORE

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