The Economist’s Guide to Crime Busting

The Economist’s Guide to Crime Busting


NIJ Journal (June 2012)


Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig

What is the more cost-effective way to control crime? Is it to focus on making crime unattractive by threatening offenders with long prison terms? Or to make the law-abiding life more attractive by providing better education and job opportunities? This old debate has been reopened as states face budget deficits and can no longer afford to support huge prison populations. This article focuses on three proposals: raising the minimum age at which youths can leave school, promoting business improvement districts and other forms of self-protection, and increasing taxes on alcohol. These and other similar ideas represent a new frontier in thinking about crime. These approaches recognize that we can deter crime by improving peoples' life chances. America's next war on crime must look at the full spectrum of solutions and pay special attention to giving those people who are most likely to turn to crime the skills and incentives to make a better choice.

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