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Ch09_-Law - Chapter9 TheEconomicsofCrime...

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Chapter 9 The Economics of Crime
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2 The Economics of Crime Economics is a particular way of understanding  human behavior. The economic approach to analyzing crime starts  from the assumption that a burglar burgles for the  same reason I teach economics. We find it a more attractive profession than any other.
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3 The Economics of Crime If one, whether a legislator or a homeowner,   wishes to reduce burglary, one does so by raising  the costs of the burglar’s profession or reducing  its benefit.
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4 The Economics of Crime In economics, muggers, like other profit- maximizing businessmen, would prefer to obtain  their income at the lowest possible cost. As a potential target, by carrying a stick, one is  not only raising the cost on the muggers if one  chooses to resist, one is also announcing  his  intention of resisting.
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5 The Economics of Crime Muggers would rationally choose easier prey. Little old ladies and other relatively defenseless  people get mugged, and football players do not.  It is some evidence that the view of the matter is  correct.
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6 Gun Control Suppose one little old lady in ten carries a gun. Suppose that one in ten of those, if attacked by a  mugger, will succeed in killing the mugger instead  of being killed by him. Of course, the mugger is much more likely to win,  but also on average, every 100 muggings produce  1 dead mugger.
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7 Gun Control Mugging becomes a very unattractive professions  – not many little old ladies carry enough money to  justify an one percentage chance of being killed! The number of muggers declines drastically, not   because all of those have been killed but because  they have, rationally, sought safer professions.
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8 Gun Control Just take an example. A lion could, no doubt, be fairly confident of  defeating a wolf or killing a fox. But still there be some small chance of the lion  getting injured. That is too high a price for one  dinner. That’s why lions prey on zebras instead!
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9 Gun Control In just the same way, a potential victim does not  have to be more deadly than the criminal - just  deadly enough so that the cost to the criminal is a  little greater than the benefit. Our natural tendency is to imagine an all-out  battle in which all that matters is victory or defeat.  But that is rarely the case.
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10 Gun Control In the conflict of muggers and the old little lady,  the mugger, on average, wins.
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