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Statistics: Costs of Crime - Directions For Future Research

life victimization term attainment

A potentially important area for future research is the possibility of long-term socioeconomic deficits. Estimates of the costs of crime to victims generally focus on relatively short-term costs. Costs associated with property loss, property damage, physical injury, and psychological distress are all costs that incur during the victimization event itself or during the short period after the crime. Previous estimates have yet to fully consider long-term socioeconomic detriments stemming from violent victimization. Although this possibility is acknowledged, previous work has yet to articulate fully the mechanisms by which criminal victimization has long-term monetary costs and to incorporate such considerations in estimates of the overall costs of criminal violence.

Recent work in life-course sociology and human development provides a framework for estimating such costs. In general, life-course researchers attempt to identify the connections between disparate life-course events by demonstrating the effects of earlier events on later life-course outcomes. Life-course researchers delineate the complex ways in which life-course experiences influence expectations and aspirations that shape the direction of life-course development. From this perspective, we might anticipate that the crime-related psychological distress, even if short-lived, has the potential to disrupt processes of educational and occupational attainment, particularly when experienced during the early stages of the life course. Crime victimization in adolescence may reduce perceived self-efficacy with the consequence of lower educational attainment, higher unemployment, and poorer occupational status. Ultimately, diminished educational and occupational attainment should result in significantly lower income in later adult life. Through the linking of experiences with crime victimization, their psychological consequences, and life course paths of socioeconomic attainment, further and potentially substantial costs of crime seem likely. Exploring such long-term costs is an important avenue of future work.

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