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The high cost of murder in the city

Murder might not pay, but we do. According to a new report by Iowa State University, the 461 murders in New York City last year cost New Yorkers nearly $8 billion dollars ($7,953,474,416).

Murder might not pay, but we do. According to a new report by Iowa State University, the 461 murders in New York City last year cost New Yorkers nearly $8 billion dollars ($7,953,474,416).

The study also calculated the cost for several other major crimes, including rape ($448,532), armed robbery ($335,733), aggravated assault ($145,379) and burglary ($41,288). Matt DeLisi, ISU’s associate professor of sociology and director of the criminal justice program, found the monetization of heinous crimes to be challenging but necessary.

“The emotional cost of a crime like rape — you can’t put a number on it. It’s incalculable,” he said. “The same for the amount of pain and suffering caused by homicide.”

The calculation includes destroyed property, lost income, incarceration and court fees, but also wider and more abstract societal costs like police patrols, alarm systems and insurance costs.

The highest cost was the controversial “willingness to pay” variable, which totaled nearly $12 million. That number was based on a telephone survey in which researchers asked how much they’d be willing to pay to prevent a crime in their community.

The study was not without skeptics. “This study is based on fear,” said economics professor Geert Dhondt of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, “What the ‘willingness to pay’ to prevent crime in Brooklyn is irrelevant to the rest of the country.”

 
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