Annual Review of Criminology

Pogarsky, Greg, Sean Patrick Roche, and Justin T. Pickett*



If there is agency and some decision-making process entailed in criminal behavior, then what are the incentives for crime and for conformity, and what is their role in offending decisions? Incentives have long been the province of economics, which has wide influence in criminology (e.g., Becker 1968, Cook et al. 2014). However, economics has evolved considerably since Becker’s influential model. An important development has been the advent of behavioral economics, which some consider a branch of economics on par with macroeconomics or econometrics (Dhami 2016). Behavioral economics integrates empirical departures from traditional microeconomic theories into a rigorous and more descriptively accurate economic model of choice. This review explains how behavioral economic applications on offender decision-making can help refine criminological theories of choice and identify innovative possibilities for improving crime-control policies.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff