Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Economics and Finance

Committee Chair(s)

Shannon Peterson


Shannon Peterson


Stacey Hills


Ryan Bosworth


This paper looks at the economics of crime control through the Phillips-Votey Societal Cost Function model and mathematically proves that there is a socially optimal point at which society should be devoting resources towards the prevention of crime. This allows the society to minimize the social cost of crime given a theoretical cost constraint. This paper take the model further by conducting comparative analysis to determine the effect that changes in the functional form of crime generation, and crime prevention will have on society as represented in the model. This paper also looks at the counter intuitive effect that growth in per capita GDP has a negative effect on crime rates, as a follow up to recently published article in The Economist magazine. We will expand this to see if this pattern continues for other countries with high rates of poverty. It also explores the social economical causes of crime generation by looking at Steven Ralphael’s paper The Effect of Unemployment on Crime and Richard Rosenfeld and Steven Messner paper The Social Sources of Homicide in Different Types of Societies adding a multinational dimension to Ralphael’s paper. This paper expands the Messner and Ralphael model by not only reproducing the OLS regression but by also using a fractional logit regression to create a more robust model. This paper uses the fractional logit regression in order to get a better idea how social economic factors such as unemployment rates and monetary inequality may influence crime.

This paper then looks at the largest portion of a state’s expenditure of crime control, the use of prisons to see how effective they are in reforming prisoners and acting as a deterrent for future criminal behavior of this former prison population.


This work made publicly available electronically on April 12, 2012.

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