via The Atlantic:
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In 1899, Thorstein Veblen described a type of good that is more lusted after the more expensive it is (think Ferraris). And in 1968, the economist Gary S. Becker theorized that criminals perform cost-benefit analyses just like everyone else: What are the odds of getting caught, and what’s the potential payoff? These two frameworks have lived out vibrant lives in academic journals, high-school textbooks, and college lecture halls, but, as they’re ostensibly unrelated, they’ve rarely been put in conversation with one another.
A study put out this month in Oxford Economic Papers does just that, in an effort to come up with a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between inequality and violence. There’s a good amount of research from all over the world that suggests that places with pronounced income inequality are more likely to have high rates of violent crime, a finding that makes intuitive sense: the wider the socioeconomic gap, per Becker’s 1968 model, the more gains potential criminals perceive.