"Crime, Inequality, and Unemployment

There has been much discussion of the relationships between crime, inequality and unemployment. We construct a model where all three are endogenous. Introducing crime into otherwise standard models affects the labor market in several interesting ways. For example, we show how the crime rate affects the unemployment rate and vice-versa; how the possibility of criminal activity can lead to wage inequality among homogeneous workers; and how the possibility of crime can generate multiple equilibria in natural but previously unexplored ways. In particular, two fundamentally identical neighborhoods may easily end up with different levels of unemployment, inequality, and crime. The model can be used to study the equilibrium effects of anti-crime policies, such as changes in apprehension rates or jail sentences, as well as more traditional labor market policies such as unemployment insurance.


Paper Number: 02-038

Paper Year: 2002


Kenneth Burdett
Ricardo Lagos
Randall Wright