How Econ Got Crime and Punishment Wrong

The flaw was assuming that criminals act rationally.

The result of a spur of the moment.

Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

A number of observers, me included, have commented on the big shift happening in the economics field. Theory is giving way to data. Economists who focus on statistics and empirics are soaring to the top of the field, while old-style mathematical philosophers are becoming less prominent. But does this really matter? Were all those theorems and proofs really doing any harm? 

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