The Monetary Costs of Crime to Middle Adulthood: Findings from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development
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Objectives: Monetary cost estimates of criminal careers have been limited to specific samples, specific ages, and focused on the United States. This article is the first to examine the costs of a life course of crime in the United Kingdom. Method: This study uses longitudinal data from 411 South London males from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development (CSDD) to derive costs-of-crime estimates from childhood to middle adulthood (ages 10 to 50). Additional features include a calculation of cost estimates across distinct offending trajectories and centering on costs per offender. Results: Offending over the life course imposes a considerable amount of economic and social costs and these costs are differentially distributed across offending trajectories. The cost of high-rate chronic offending is nearly two and a half to ten times greater than the cost of high adolescence peaked offending, very low-rate chronic offending, and low adolescence peaked offending, respectively. It is estimated that a male high-rate chronic offender on average would impose an annual cost of 㱸 ($29) per U.K. citizen or a lifetime cost of 㷴2 ($1,185) per U.K. citizen. Conclusions: As the average and total costs of crime were significantly different across offending trajectories, with high-rate chronics imposing the most financial burden, adopting prevention and intervention strategies aimed at reducing the number of high-rate chronics and/or speeding up their eventual desistance will offer many savings to the public and perhaps turn those negative costs into positive contributions.
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Causes and Prevention of Crime