Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics

Pitfalls of the Classical School of Crime

The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics

Volume 7, No. 4 (Winter 2004)


Economic analysis can be applied to the phenomenon of crime. In the present paper, we will deal with an approach to the economics of crime that is built on the foundations of neoclassical welfare theory. We will call the school of thought that has developed this approach the “classical school of crime” (CSC). The contribution of the CSC model is to apply standard tools of economic analysis to a field that has been mostly reserved to psychologists and  sociologists. The CSC model is based on the assumption that criminals are rational and act according to the costs and gains of their actions. Although the CSC model brought some improvements in how to analyze criminal behavior by using the tools of economic analysis, it was not accomplished with a satisfactory methodology. These errors constitute different pit-falls and point to the necessity of finding an alternative approach.


Carnis, Laurent. "Pitfalls of the Classical School of Crime." The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 7, No. 4 (Winter 2004): 7–18.

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