The economic theory of crime is supported by evidence relating to the factors that speak to the attractiveness (or lack) of legal earning opportunities. Several studies show that education is a crime-limiting factor (Lochner and Moretti, 2004; Machin et al., 2011; Chaln and Raphael, 2011; Anderson, 2014; Hjalmarsson et al., 2015; Bell et al., 2016). Other researchers have investigated low wages and unemployment as inducements to a life of crime (Raphael and Winter-Ebmer, 2001; Gould et al., 2002; Machin and Meghir, 2004; Fougere et al., 2009; Bell et al., 2018; Khanna et al., 2019; Hemet, 2020). A number of studies also estimate the effects of inequality on crime incidence. In South Africa, Demombynes and Ozler (2005) and a positive and strong correlation between inequality and property crimes using cross-sectional data. The authors show that the incidence of property offences is higher in police precincts that are relatively wealthier than their immediate neighbors. Metz and Burdina (2018) document similar results for a sample of urban centers in the United States. Bourguignon et al. (2003) further argue that the leftmost part of the income distribution disproportionately affects property crimes in Colombia. Thus, a change in income among individuals above a certain threshold would have no significant effect on mitigating crime. The same type of insight is also posited by Machin and Meghir (2004).2
2 Researchers have also sought evidence related to the effectiveness of deterrents such as the size and intensity of police activities (Levitt, 2002; Di Tella and Schargrodsky, 2004; Evans and Owens, 2007; Lin, 2009; Draca et al., 2011; DeAngelo and Hansen, 2014; Chaln and McCrary, 2018) or the magnitude and swiftness of sanctions (Liedka et al., 2006; Drago et al., 2009; Hawken and Kleiman, 2009; Johnson and Raphael, 2012). Overall, improvements in law enforcement systems are systematically linked to reductions in crime; however, sanctions appear to be a relatively weak deterrent.