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Victim Costs and Consequences: A New Look

NCJ Number
T R Miller; M A Cohen; B Wiersema
Date Published
January 1996
31 pages
This report documents the results of a 2-year multidisciplinary research effort to estimate the costs and consequences of personal crime for Americans.
Data sources for the incidence of crime included national victimization studies and local studies. People and households in the United States faced more than 49 million crime attempts annually in 1987-1990. The annual toll includes more than 16 million violent crimes and attempted crimes. In 1990, 31,000 deaths resulted. This report explains the nature of and how the costs were estimated for the following tangible victim losses: medical care, property damage and loss, mental health care, police and fire services, victim services, and victim productivity. Intangible losses include pain, suffering, and reduced quality of life. Personal crime is estimated to cost $105 billion annually in medical costs, lost earnings, and public program costs related to victim assistance. These tangible losses do not account for the full impact of crime on victims, however, because they ignore pain, suffering, and lost quality of life. Including pain, suffering, and the reduced quality of life increases the cost of crime to victims to an estimated $450 billion annually. Violent crime, including drunk driving and arson, accounts for $426 billion of this total; property crime accounts for $24 billion. These estimates exclude several crimes that were not included in this study but that also have large impacts, notably many forms of white-collar crime and drug crimes. 9 tables and 51 references