When in Bihar, commit crime

Putting aside any morality and looking at crime solely as an economic product, I would like to justify from the perspective of economics, why it is extremely favorable to become a criminal, especially in Bihar. The aim of the discussion is not to promote criminals in my native state but to make them realize that more than anything else, the state policies bring down the cost of production of crime, as well as risks associated it with, in turn making criminalism an extremely lucrative profession. In other words, I would like to lay an economic foundation to the oft heard line in a plethora of hindi movies which goes like this: mujhe samaaj ne apraadhi bana diya (society made me a criminal).

There are various form of committing a crime. Let me take rape as a specific example to proceed with.


The net benefit, in words, of raping anyone is the satisfaction that one can arrive by forcefully penetrating a woman. Such a benefit, by its nature is extremely difficult to quantify. For lack of quantification, it is impossible to prove whether a criminal activity like raping is economically justified or not. In this sense, raping someone is like buying diamonds. You buy diamonds because you like them, just like you rape someone because you see some value in it. Now the maximum price that one might be willing to pay to either rape or buy diamonds in a way can be taken as a proxy for the monitory value of the benefit one sees in it.

There is one basic difference too, between buying diamonds and raping. You cannot go mine diamonds yourself, unlike the way you can rape someone. This brings into picture, the role of the producer/seller, and hence the concept of profit-margin. As a produce, if it costs me 1000 rupees to make available 1 gram of diamond, and if I am selling it off for 1500, I make a profit of 500 bucks which goes straight to my pocket. Thus though the value of the diamond (based on costs involved in making it available from under the earth) is less than the price the market is paying for it. And the market is paying more for it, because it sees more value in it, than just the cost involved in its extraction. Same applies to raping someone. Say, in money terms if the average total cost of committing a rape is equal to 10,000 bucks per female, and you still commit rape, you of course perceive more value in it, if at the end of it, you still think you had a net gain. They who think it was a stupid thing to do, or they acted on impulsion, basically see a net loss. So if you notice, your ex-ante valuation (i.e before raping) and post-ante valuation might not be the same. It’s almost like betting on a new product. You don’t assign value on it based on how much it cost the manufacturer, but based on the benefits you perceive from it. After having paid a hefty amount, you might soon realize that it wasn’t worth it.

In the absence of an open market for rape, one cannot find out the average value of the product. But the fact remains, that an average value will indeed exist (the average of ex-ante, post-ante, the average between a large group who value it differently etc.). Now if overall, the market is making a profit, i.e if more people think that it was a net gain for them than a net loss, then the value is of course more than the total cost. In the case of raping you cannot ‘see’ a profit because it is not tradeable good. But as along as overall, most feel they had a net gain, it is safe to assume that on an average, the value of rape is more than sum total of all costs. Like any, other sector, if overall there is a net gain, more and more people will start doing it. Thus a growth rate is an indicator of economic sustainability. Given that the growth rate of crime in general and rape in particular in Bihar has been steady, one can actually assume that most actually do feel, that there is net gain in raping a person.


The total cost of committing any crime could be split up into following main categories:

  • capital cost (weapons, vehicles, fuel etc.)
  • labour cost
  • tax component (fraction of profit paid to the authorized agencies that includes the police bodies and state government employees)
  • the costs associated with risk involved

All the above costs are directly controlled by the state policy. As long as a state can manage to keep these costs lower than the benefits perceived, committing crime becomes economically sensible. For criminal activities like say rape, the capital and labour cost components will be (almost) zero (assuming that you are man enough, and don’t hire others to help you). Also, the cost will depend on who you are raping (or to say, the risk involved is not solely dependent on state policy). Trying to rape the daughter of an MLA might be too costly for you to ever match whatever value you see in that.

For the sake of bringing down my discussion to a conclusion, let me freeze the kind of person who is being raped. Now the cost depends only on the tax component and costs of risks. So, it makes economic sense to commit the crime in a state where these two costs are low. This is precisely, why more rapes happen in Bihar than probably anywhere else. The same economic logic also supports other criminal activities like murdering, extortions etc. In the case of extortions, it becomes easy to quantify the net benefit because it happens in money terms mostly. But let me leave it, here.

11 replies on “When in Bihar, commit crime”

last time i visited this blog, i read about ur concerns for education model of our country, in rural areas. and it was enlightening. so i was kind of expecting something from this GYAN section. i read it twice to make sense but of no use. 🙁 it could be my fault too that i didnt understand but it seems this does not deserve to be here in this section.

Bihar is not a right place to try u r “rape economics modelling” … first the rape rates are the lowest in the country if u can prove me wrong please do so .. u can try delhi or mumbai.. “This is precisely, why more rapes happen in Bihar than probably anywhere else” please qulaify teh statement .. kidnaps adn extortion happens .. rapes.. surprising
Diamonds and rape are like comparing apples and oranges . “raping someone is like buying diamonds” in any economic discussion u need a seller and buyer.. or a demand and supply a market i can understand buying diamonds .. someone sells diamond and someone buys.. it ..
please place rape in this context.. who sells and who buys .. (market of course) then u r discussion will hold water …
any so called antisocial activity has economic impact (law and order costs )but u r blog makes it as an economically viable activity … does u r model put some kind of figures.. … 1998 figures .. but figures nevertheless

Hey thanks for noticing the flaws. There are certain things on which I will agree and there are certain issues which I would like to defend.

The article that you quoted as reference for figures, first of all proves its biasness by stating in the beginning itself, a statement like this: “Exhaustive data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau of the Union Home Ministry establish that crime levels in Bihar, though undoubtedly high, are far lower than those in some other States where the BJP or its allies are in power.”

When I read it, it appeared to me that the objective of the article was somehow to do some damage to a political party as such. Do you think that actually might be the writers intention?

Talking about statistics on crime rate, a problem is that they are based on registered cases. Now, how do you account for the unregistered one? Going by the number of registered cases of rapes in Delhi and Bihar, you might probably say that, Delhi is worse off. But one can never prove that, that actually is the ground reality. Now, of course I cannot prove that Bihar is otherwise without doing a survey myself. So not arguing with you on that. Just letting you know that even these data made available have flaws.

The aim of the article was to show that a state can make it economically more feasible for someone to commit commit crime, be it Bihar or some other state. The objective was not to target Bihar, but to showcase the power the government has in changing an individual criminal’s preferences. I used Bihar because it is easier for people to relate Bihar with crime.

Your question about comparing apples and oranges has existed in economics for long (of course you know that). But economists still have to do that. When I say committing crime is economically more sensible in certain states than others, I am talking from the criminals perspective. From a state perspective, it of course isn’t and I totally agree with you on the external negative impacts. This is another reason, why every state should realize that crime rates (and the real ones, not the registered ones) are brought down.

Thanks for reflecting. You can discuss more.

this is the extract o fteh same paper article .. which quotes the rape figures .. probably u missed it .. it was a long article…

Bhandari’s other claims are no less disingenuous. His report to the President asserts that 2,472 persons were abducted in Bihar during the past one year; in 1996, a total of 2,378 persons were abducted. Bihar’s record in this respect is considerably better than that of many other States. Its abduction rate of 2.5 was only marginally above the national average, and well under those of Rajasthan, with a rate of 5.8, and the BJP’s own Delhi, with a colossal rate of 11. Interestingly, women and girls were considerably less likely to be abducted in Bihar than in most other parts of India. Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat and Haryana – States were the BJP is in power either singly or in a coalition – led the way in the number of abductions of women and girls in 1996.

Indeed, Bhandari’s report appears to have a curiously skewed view of just where women are most at threat. Acco-rding to Crime in India 1996, rape cases nationwide “have almost doubled during the decade 1986-96”. “Madhya Pradesh,” it records, “as in the previous few years, recorded the highest number of incidents which accounted for 22 per cent of all the rape cases reported in the country… Uttar Pradesh also reported a significant number of such cases, accounting for 12.5 per cent at (sic) national share.” 😮 With a rape rate of 1.5, about 0.1 below the national average, Bihar’s record was better. 😆 Barring some northeastern States, women were most vulnerable to rape in Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. What figures Bhandari cited in his report to the President have not been made public, but the reason why he mentioned none in his press conferences is evident.

well its a fact we haev limited facts to play around .. but thats the only palce we can model or propose things.. k lets accept that facts are not enough.. so lets keep this as theory and keep bihar element out

let me summarize u r theory.. (please correct me if i am wrong)
in soem places (….) its economically sensible to commit crime with teh state taking care of externalities to bare minimum
u have assumed bihar not be a open market
u have assumed that general attitude of that place is to commit crime

“Say, in money terms if the average total cost of committing a rape is equal to 10,000 bucks per female, and you still commit rape, you of course perceive more value in it”

10000 rupees is u r capital investment adn teh return is what we discuss ..

so the theory boils down to is return worth more than the investment

u suggest that everyone wants to commit it ..
“Like any, other sector, if overall there is a net gain, more and more people will start doing it. Thus a growth rate is an indicator of economic sustainability”
so there lot of guys ready to invest..(whatever) compare it to rising crude oil many buyers .. is crude price going down snot a question of suistainability but a question of feasibility….
more peopel will make lose any sector its comparitive advantage…
ok u can defend u r self by sayinng its a closed market.. good assumption again… but ever wondered .. most closed market places have failed.. wonder why.. anyway
but what kin do fclosed market u have assumed a palce with no law or no competion or no substitutes..
please elaborate so we ponder upon u r model…
good night

I agree with you. We need some data, even if they do not represent the true scene.

You have more or less got my model right but this is not the bottomline: “theory boils down to is return worth more than the investment”. The bottomline is that a state can increased the economic cost of committing a crime and hence bring down the number of people who would be willing to commit it.

About the closed and open market bit: there is NO market for crimes like rape. I have never said there IS a closed market. If you can, please rephrase your question on comparative advantage. I did not get the question.

i must have tested u r patience with my spelling .. grammatical errors and third rate sentence formation ..
well .. i firmly believe that market is an integral part of this discussion because its the right place to fix a value for any proposition..
yeah comparitive advantage .. its a well established economic axiom that globalisation is based on the fact each place has a comparitive advantage in produing or providing a particular good (china manufacturing india services.. some countries terrorism.. 😕 and any place that makes goods which it is best at reaps maximum profit.. which in turn means its a viable proposition
“when in china make goods.. when in india provide services .. when in bihar..??? ”
so comparitive advantage i feel has a role
your quote ” But as along as overall, most feel they had a net gain, it is safe to assume that on an average, the value of rape is more than sum total of all costs. Like any, other sector, if overall there is a net gain, more and more people will start doing it. Thus a growth rate is an indicator of economic sustainability.”

you propose one “rape is profitable in bihar “. ❗ . two its economically sustainable because its growing .. 😛
well profitability is based on feasibility and comparitive advantage, Sustainability is compromised to certain extent if too many players are involved ..yes u needa critical mass to provide the right impetus but too may getting into it will bring about “margin pressure” “inventory pressure” .. dipping profits..

yeah u r bottomline is bang on target.. kudos for it ..
increaing the cost does bring down the cost of crime .. but its not a perfect solution ..
i will give u a analogy ..every year govn increases taxes on cigarretes in the hope that increased cost brings down its consumption or demand.. does it really happen .. does mere cost increase bring down crimes.. please ponder on this.. arent invisibles liek education awareness sensitization play a major role..

pease go through.. if u through cuba a litle known country has lowest criem rates.. is it because of increased policing or increased economic growth or better overall development in terms of education healthc are .. rights..

please ponder….

“on a emotive note.. rape is the worst crime a man can ever contemplate leave alonr indulging in it .. i wish u had taken a better premise to discuss this theory nevermind.. shit happens… i hope earth turns a crime devoid place.. ” 🙂 : 😀

While you try to prove whether raping a woman in Bihar is economically sensible compared to another state or not (debatable), let me say that raping Bihar and Biharis itself is definitely economically more profitable. Take any two penny journalist and he will have plenty of reasons to rape Bihar – the news sells, his media gets more ad revenue and everyone goes home happy.

For central govt at Delhi, it was always best to rape Bihar, whether in allocating least resources (Lowest per capita grant in each five year plan since independence, figures can be verified from the official site of the planning commission of India. In the last plan, Karnataka has roughly four times per capita and Punjab etc is even more.) or in enacting policies like freight equalization. This way they had the luxury to pass on the benefits to others.

Now if makes sense even for regional politicians to rape Bihar and Biharis: in Maharashtra, Assam and Delhi, to name a few. The benefit accrues soon in terms of votes they are able to garner.

So you also join the bandwagon – who cares what you are saying it a load of bullshit besides being sexist, the image of Bihar will definitely take one more battering – the benefit of eyeballs will accrue to you by raping Bihar in your blog.

But then, be aware, the rape victim is a very dangerous person. Having lost what is very dear (maybe you / MCPs wont understand this), and non quantifiable, she can inflict a return punch that will be difficult to quantify even for a quanti guy like you, for it may approach infinity in terms of value.

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