Crime and Inefficiency Seizing individual property is a criminal act A property crime is a transfer of valuable property from its owner to someone else The transfer per se may not be inefficient However, the transfer usually involves a cost in terms of loss in value of the transferred property, or harm to the property owner
Crime and Inefficiency Seizing individual property is a criminal act It also weakens the property rights system Increased incidence of property crime undermines the authority of the government to protect private property rights. This may lead to undermining incentives to invest and negatively affecting economic growth.
Crime and Inefficiency When trade/consumption of certain goods results in negative externalities, society may decide it is illegal. Example: Trade/ consumption of illegal drugs promotes crime, spreads disease and exacerbates poverty This may give rise to illegal trading, which is costly to society
Costs of Crime Victim cost ($91 billion): lost property, medical expenses, opportunity cost of lost work time, value of lives cut short Private prevention ($39 billion): locks, guards Criminal justice system ($74 billion): police, courts, correction facilities Opportunity cost of 1.35 million in prison = $46 billion Total = $250 billion (3.8% of GDP)
Crime Prevention as a public good To avoid some of the costs of crime, it is important to allocate resources to prevent crime Should crime prevention be provided by the government? What are the special features of crime prevention?
THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF GOODS Is Is the good rival in consumption? Can the good be consumed by more than one person and give each the same value as when consumed individually. the good excludable? Refers to the potential of excluding some people from using it.
Four Types of Goods Rival in consumption? Yes No Private Goods Yes • Ice-cream cones • Clothing Collective Goods • Cable TV Excludable? Common Resources No • Fish in the ocean • The environment Public Goods • Street Lighting •Crime Prevention
Public Goods The benefit from consumption of a private good is confined to the buyer Public goods generate external benefits, and thus markets cannot ensure that the good is produced in the proper amounts Reaching an agreement between individuals to provide and finance the public good is costly: People differ in the valuation of the public good Information about valuation not provided The government can potentially provide the public good at a lower cost.
Problems of public goods provision A free-rider is a person who receives the benefit of a good but avoids paying for it. Individuals free ride because Their contribution to finance the public good is small, especially in large groups The good is non excludable
The Free-Rider Problem Solving the Free-Rider Problem The government provides the optimal amount of the public good The government finances the public good by taxing individuals: Tax proportional to willingness to pay, or Head tax Income tax
Optimal amount of Crime Prevention Crime Preventi on Units 1 2 3 4 5 6 MB to Henry ($) 49 40 35 30 28 20 MB to Mark ($) 35 30 25 20 18 10 MB to Lewis ($) 30 25 20 15 14 5 How do we construct demand for crime prevention ?
Optimal amount of Crime Prevention Crime MB to MB to MB to MB to Preve Henry Mark Louis society ntion ($) ($) ($) ($) Units 1 49 35 30 114 2 40 30 25 95 3 35 25 20 80 4 30 20 15 65 5 28 18 14 60 6 20 10 5 35 What is the socially optimum number of units if the cost is $60 each ?
Individual choice Crime Preventi on Units 1 2 3 4 5 6 MB to Henry ($) 49 40 35 30 28 20 MB to Mark ($) 35 30 25 20 18 10 MB to Lewis ($) 30 25 20 15 14 5 If the cost of a unit is shared equally, how many units would each choose?
Majority Rule Suppose we use majority voting to choose crime prevention units According to the Median Voter Rule, the voting outcome will match the preferences of the median voter The median voter is the person whose preferences lie in the middle of all preferences
Majority Rule Suppose we use majority rule to determine between 3, 4 and 6 units Hold elections between any two options 3 vs. 4 Hold elections between the preferred option and the remaining option Result: median voter always wins Two of the three citizens are left with a suboptimal choice 4 vs. 6 H M L win 4 4 3 4 6 4 4 4 4
Formation of Municipalities One alternative is to form municipalities each providing different crime prevention units By voting with their feet, individuals can pick the optimal municipality This results in segregation by preferences (possibly by education or race) Segregation by income if local taxes are based on property values
Resource Allocation and crime prevention Different crime prevention activities How to allocate expenditure among the different facets of crime prevention: Courts, judges and prosecutors Correction, rehabilitation and punishment.
Resource Allocation and crime prevention MSC MSC MSB Judges In MSC MSB MSB Courts Police officers the absence of a budget constraint, resources would be allocated such that MSB=MSC from each facet This allocation will determine the optimal budget.
Limited Crime Prevention Budget A limited budget for crime prevention Equi-marginal principle: The crime budget should be allocated among the different crime prevention activities such that the last dollar spent on any one activity yields the same marginal benefit