Behavioral criminology and public policy

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15 Scopus citations


Research Summary: Public policy, including crime policy, is heavily shaped by economic theory. Recently, refinements based on the application of behavioral insights into the study of public policy applications have become en vogue. Although criminologists have made some inroads into incorporating behavioral principals into the study of crime and offender decision-making, these contributions have mainly been limited to the area of risk. In this article, I offer a more widespread description of how behavioral economics (BE) can be applied to the study of offender decision-making and crime policy. Specifically, I focus on several main areas that move beyond the traditional foci on perceptions of risk: intertemporal choice, criminal labor supply, mental accounting and consumption, and social preferences. For each topical area, I first identify a presumable, normative model that could reasonably be drawn from traditional rational choice theory. I then describe ways, based on existing contributions from BE, that scholars have sought to make the assumptions (and anomalies) of this model more realistic. Policy Implications: The primary aim of this article is to highlight implications to theory and policy that increase the utilization of BE by criminologists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-758
Number of pages22
JournalCriminology and Public Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Administration
  • Law


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