Bonnie and Clyde, Frank and Jesse James, Mario and Luigi.
Jokes, but if you want to know about the economics of the bank robbing business Italy is the place to go.
During the period between 2000 and 2006 (the last period for which comprehensive public data are available), the country averaged “nearly as many bank robberies each year than the rest of Europe combined”.
That’s according to QZ, using detailed records kept by the Italian Banking Association.
Economists Giovanni Mastrobuoni and David A. Rivers have also studied Italian bank robberies, analysing more than 5 000 examples, and their data is as follows:
The average heist lasted 4 minutes, 16 seconds and yielded €16,000 (about $19,800 at the exchange rate of the time). Though each additional minute in the bank, on average, leads to about €1,400 more in earnings, the majority of robberies last three minutes or less because the risk of getting caught increases with time.
So it’s basically a trade off between how much money you want to pocket and how badly you want to get away – pick wisely.
The researchers also examined the economic factors that affect the decision to rob and how that information might be used to deter future crimes.
All bank robberies begin with an implicit question: Is it worth it to me to rob this particular bank, at this particular time? It’s a complicated equation that takes into account the expected haul, the would-be perpetrator’s risk aversion, and the opportunity costs of prison, among other factors.
They devised a formula, and just for shits and giggles here it is: V(t)=[1−Pr(Tp <t)]E[U(W +Y(t),δ)]+Pr(Tp <t)(W,d,S,δ).
Moving on, before the migraine sets in:
High-skilled thieves—those who steal a lot quickly, with fewer arrests—have essentially found a lucrative line of work. It may be tough for this group to find an alternative career as profitable as crime. Therefore, the researchers suggest the best deterrent for the elite thief may be a long prison sentence, during which he would not be able to practice his (or her) trade.
Low-skilled robbers, on the other hand, have less to gain from a life of crime. The authors suggest this group is best served by expanding educational and training programs that offer attractive alternatives to theft and increase the opportunity costs of incarceration.
The decision to rob can be a surprisingly rational one. The decision to deter robberies can be too.
I suppose, like most things in life, the need to plan rings true. Banks are generally guilty of robbing us on a daily basis, but I think we should leave the retribution to the Italian professionals.
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