presents estimates for the per-offense tangible costs of crime in 2008 dollars across thirteen offense types. The three main components of tangible costs are victim costs, criminal justice system costs, and crime career costs. Predatory crimes generated the highest per-offense cost to society with $1.28 million per murder, $41,247 per rape/sexual assault, $21,398 per robbery, and $19,537 per aggravated assault. The property crimes of motor vehicle theft, arson, household burglary, and larceny/theft generated per-offense tangible costs between $3,523 and $16,428. The remaining crime categories, including stolen property offenses, vandalism, forgery and counterfeiting, embezzlement, and fraud, had per-offense tangible costs ranging between $4,860 and $7,974.
Tangible Per-Offense Costs (Including Crime Victim, Criminal Justice System, and Crime Career Costs) for Different Crimes in 2008 Dollars
presents estimates of intangible costs per offense in 2008 dollars. The two components of intangible costs are pain and suffering and the corrected risk of homicide. Four crime categories have pain-and-suffering costs: murder, rape/sexual assault, aggravated assault, and robbery. The pain-and-suffering cost associated with murder is simply the average value of a statistical life (Viscusi and Aldy, 2003
) inflated to 2008 dollars (U.S. Department of Labor, 2008b
). Because a risk-of-homicide cost is not applicable, this pain-and-suffering component represents the total intangible cost of murder ($8.4 million). Rape/sexual assault had the next highest per-offense intangible cost to society ($199,642), followed by aggravated assault ($95,023) and robbery ($22,575). The value of the pain and suffering associated with rape/sexual assault ($198,212) was more than 40 times greater than that associated with robbery ($4,976). The corrected risk-of-homicide component for aggravated assault ($81,588) was more than four times that of robbery ($17,599). Crime categories with only a corrected risk-of-homicide cost (arson, household burglary, motor vehicle theft, and larceny/theft) had significantly lower intangible costs ranging from $10 to $5,133. The remaining categories had neither a pain-and-suffering component nor a corrected risk-of-homicide component and therefore had no measurable intangible costs.
Intangible Per-Offense Costs (Including Pain and Suffering and Corrected Risk-of-Homicide Costs) for Different Crimes in 2008 Dollars
presents the total per-offense societal cost of crime across all offense categories. For murder, the total cost is the sum of tangible and intangible costs, excluding crime victim costs, which are already accounted for in the value of a statistical life used to estimate the intangible costs. For those crime categories with an associated risk of homicide, original risk-of-homicide costs (based on the mean present value of lifetime earnings) were first removed from the tangible costs reported in to prevent double counting. The resulting estimates were then added to the intangible costs from to produce total cost estimates. For crime categories without associated risk-of-homicide costs, the total cost of crime is equal to the tangible costs reported in .
Total (Tangible Plus Intangible) Per-Offense Cost for Different Crimes in 2008 Dollars
Crime categories are ranked in by magnitude of total societal cost. Not surprisingly, murder generates the greatest loss to society at nearly $9 million per offense. Rape/sexual assault follows murder with a total per-offense cost of $240,776. Aggravated assault generates a total per-offense societal cost of $107,020, and the average robbery leads to a societal burden of $42,310. It is worth noting the significance of intangible costs in determining the ranking of these offenses. Arson, motor vehicle theft, household burglary, and larceny/theft have total per-offense societal costs between $3,532 and $21,103. With the exception of arson, these crimes have relatively minor intangible costs, so the estimates in are very similar to the tangible costs alone in . Finally, stolen property offenses, vandalism, forgery and counterfeiting, embezzlement, and fraud have a total societal cost of less than $8,000 per offense (resulting exclusively from tangible losses).
presents the results from the sensitivity analyses of tangible crime costs (alternative estimates for medical costs, productivity losses, and criminal justice system costs) and intangible costs (alternative value of a statistical life for corrected risk-of-homicide calculations). As a point of reference, the second column in lists the total per-offense costs from the primary analysis (also in ). The first sensitivity analysis (SA1) recalculated the corrected risk-of-homicide used for estimating intangible crime costs by replacing the VSL from Viscusi and Aldy (2003)
with the VSL estimated by Cohen et al. (2004)
. Using the latter value for all crimes involving a risk of death increased the total per-offense cost for murder to $12,554,552 (40% increase over the primary analysis), aggravated assault to $241,381 (32% increase), robbery to $49,756 (18% increase), and arson to $23,274 (10% increase). The impact on other crimes was very small (0.1 – 2%).
Columns 4 and 5 in present the second sensitivity analysis (SA2) of criminal justice system costs. Cohen et al. (1994)
calculated police investigation and court-related costs for murder, aggravated assault, rape/sexual assault, and robbery. Substituting Cohen et al.’s estimates for the original estimates in the tangible crime cost calculations had very little impact on total per-offense costs. Murder and robbery costs increased marginally (0.08% and 3%, respectively), while rape/sexual assault and aggravated assault decreased slightly (−0.09 and −0.63%, respectively). Aos and colleagues (2001)
used data from the Washington State Auditor to estimate the CJS costs for a range of violent and property offenses. Based on this work, Aos (2003)
reports CJS costs per crime based on the probabilities of arrest and conviction in Washington. Employing these values in the tangible crime cost calculations increased the total per-offense costs of murder, rape/sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault by 4 -16%. The unit costs of property offenses decreased by 2 - 46%.
The final column in presents the results of the third sensitivity analysis (SA3), whereby more recent medical and productivity loss data for sexual violence, assaults, and robberies are used (Corso et al., 2008
and Miller et al., 2007
). Employing these alternative estimates increased the per-offense cost of rape/sexual assault to $244,126 (1.4%), aggravated assault to $115,365 (7.8%), and robbery to $49,481 (17%).