The Tragedy of Wasted Funds and Broken Dreams

An Economic Analysis of Childhood Exposure to Crime and Violence

The problem of childhood exposure to crime and violence, which we previously coined the Triple-C Impact, was declared a “national crisis” and is estimated to be one of the most damaging and costly public health and public safety problems in our society. Nevertheless, thus far, no one knows how much it actually costs us.

This Article aims to answer this daunting question and provide an empirical economic analysis of the cost of the Triple-C Impact problem to the state and society.

Children whose lives are touched by crime are left with deep scars that gravely affect their mental and physical health, as well as their life outcomes. Such negative corollaries inflict hefty costs on the state and society at large. In fact, our analysis reveals a total annual cost of more than $496 billion. Despite the severity and cost of the problem, our society has done little to help affected children recover.

The analysis presented in this Article will form the basis for an evidence-based argument as to the unparalleled economic benefits of investment in early intervention efforts to alleviate the injurious and costly outcomes for children affected by crime exposure.

a Michal Gilad is an Associate Fellow with the University of Pennsylvania Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (Penn LDI). She holds an S.J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, an M.S. degree from the University of Pennsylvania Department of Criminology, and an LL.B. from Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law. The author would like to thank Professor David Rudovsky for his endless support and ongoing mentorship. Deepest gratitude for the insightful comments, critique and advice also goes to Dr. John Roman, Dr. David Abrams, Dr. Atheendar Venkataramani, Dr. Tess Wilkinson-Ryan, and Ms. Nathaly Lopez Garreaud. Most importantly, to Yaniv Gilad, without whom none of this would have been possible.

b Abraham Gutman is an economist and a health policy expert. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in economics and public policy from Hunter College. He currently serves as a Staff Writer with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The full text of this Article is available to download as a PDF.