Saggi sulle Determinanti Socioeconomiche del Crimine. Quadro Critico della Letteratura ed Analisi del Caso Italiano
Astarita, Caterina (2010) Saggi sulle Determinanti Socioeconomiche del Crimine. Quadro Critico della Letteratura ed Analisi del Caso Italiano. [Tesi di dottorato] (Inedito)
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Among socioeconomic determinant of crime inequality ranks high. The link between inequality and crime has drawn the attention of several scientific branches among which, firstly, criminology, sociology and economics. The latter has dealt with it both from a theoretical and an empirical point of view. In economics, the interest to inequality as cause of the illicit activity has its roots in a moment just subsequent to the birth of the Economics of crime, whose founder, generally identified in Becker, with his rigorous theoretical contribution, suggests a pattern of rational choice between legal and illegal activities. Few years later, Ehrlich’s work acts as trait d’union between the Becker’s theoretical pattern, obviously enriched and revised, and the empirical verification, not only of the deterrence hypothesis, but also of crime’s economic determinants among which the legal and illegal return. In this context inequality appears as proxy of the opportunity cost of crime. Since Ehrlich’s article (1973) an increasingly rich empirical literature has been developing and it is still providing many contributions. On the contrary, the theoretical literature is more limited. After having examined the theoretical literature, the first chapter’s purpose is to provide a critical review of the empirical literature, with relation to which, thanks to its richness, there are many ways to follow in order to classify it. Our approach will allows us to distinguish the literature on the channel that correlates inequality and crime: the economic and the sociological one, although it is clear that the separation is not so strict. As regards the economic channel, our purpose is firstly to show how the inequality variable appears within the economics of crime, then to investigate which meaning it assumes in the different works, and to verify if it can reveal its effects on its own or if it needs other variables. As general rule, we will follow a chronological order and we will leave it, if necessary, to linger over those debates thanks to which it has been possible to compare different researches both as for the methodological aspect and for the chance of replacing the synthetic measures of inequality (like Gini Index) with other measures which are able to identify very precisely which part of the distribution really influences the crime. Eventually we will mention the more recent literature which had a great development in last five years and extended its range of interests towards some Countries in the world, not considered before. Then we will go over with the description of the economic literature which has referred to the sociological channel while explaining the link between inequality and crime. The second chapter is dedicated to the empirical analysis of the Italian case in relation to which, though there are many studies about the verification of the deterrence hypothesis and of the socio-economic causes of the crime it seems to be lacking in a very deep and ad hoc analysis about the inequality as determiner of crime.
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