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Incidence and Costs of Personal and Property Crimes in the USA, 2017

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 February 2021

Ted R. Miller*
Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, 814 Bromley St. Silver Spring, Calverton, MD20902, USA and School of Public Health, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
Mark A. Cohen
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA
David I. Swedler
Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Calverton, MD, USA
Bina Ali
Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Calverton, MD, USA
Delia V. Hendrie
School of Public Health, Curtin University, Perth, Australia


Total cost estimates for crime in the USA are both out-of-date and incomplete. We estimated incidence and costs of personal crimes (both violent and non-violent) and property crimes in 2017. Incidence came from national arrest data, multi-state estimates of police-reported crimes per arrest, national victimization and road crash surveys, and police underreporting studies. We updated and expanded upon published unit costs. Estimated crime costs totaled $2.6 trillion ($620 billion in monetary costs plus quality of life losses valued at $1.95 trillion; 95 % uncertainty interval $2.2–$3.0 trillion). Violent crime accounted for 85 % of costs. Principal contributors to the 10.9 million quality-adjusted life years lost were sexual violence, physical assault/robbery, and child maltreatment. Monetary expenditures caused by criminal victimization represent 3 % of Gross Domestic Product – equivalent to the amount spent on national defense. These estimates exclude the additional costs of preventing and avoiding crime such as enhanced lighting and burglar alarms. They also exclude crimes against businesses and most white-collar and corporate offenses.

© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis

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