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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 5, 2012

Beyond the State of Nature: Introducing Social Interactions in the Economic Model of Crime

  • Joël van der Weele
From the journal Review of Law & Economics


The standard economic model of crime emphasizes the individual rationality and agency of criminals, while sociological theories typically emphasize the importance of social forces. This essay surveys a recent strand of literature on law enforcement that bridges these two approaches. Using the tools of game theory, it investigates crime as the outcome of the interaction between rational individuals. The survey shows that this analysis leads to a substantially richer set of hypotheses regarding the effect of enforcement than the standard economic model, depending on the classification of the social context, or game, in which agents operate. In doing so, it brings rational choice theories in line with long-standing insights in the field of criminology, as well as providing new analytical distinctions and generalizations.

Published Online: 2012-10-5

©2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston

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