Yearly Cost of Crime in U.S. $2.6 Trillion: First Estimate in 25 Years

CALVERTON, Md., Feb. 18, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Newly published research from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) shows that personal and property crime in the U.S. cost $2.6 trillion in 2017. This figure includes out-of-pocket costs and the value of lost quality of life.

In 2017, over 120 million crimes were committed including 24 million violent crimes. The associated costs, with a dollar value placed on lost quality of life,  include:

  • $2.2 trillion for violence
  • $160 billion for impaired driving
  • $220 billion for non-violent crime

Further, direct out-of-pocket costs to victims and taxpayers equaled $620 billion – or about $1,900 for every person in the U.S.  That figure also equaled 3.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The direct cost of crime exceeded the $590 billion for military spending or the $450 billion spent on social welfare programs in 2017.

Health care costs totaled over $90 billion or about 2.5% of health care spending

The study team was led by PIRE Senior Scientist Dr. Ted Miller and included Mark Cohen from Vanderbilt University, Delia Hendrie from Curtin University, as well as David Swedler and Bina Ali from PIRE. The publication in the Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis analyzed multiple federal and state data sources to develop the first cost estimate of U.S. crime in almost 25 years.

Dr. Ted Miller said: “Although large, these costs are conservatively estimated. Our research valued quality of life loss lower than federal regulatory analyses typically use, otherwise, total costs would rise to $3.4 trillion. Further, the nation is grappling with rising violence and fraud. Our estimates will help to inform some tough decisions. In a resource-limited world, policy needs to weigh costs against benefits.”

Source:  Miller, Ted R., Mark A. Cohen, David I. Swedler, Bina Ali, and Delia V. Hendrie. 2021. “Incidence and costs of personal and property crimes in the United States, 2017.” Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis. 1-31. Doi:10.1017/bca.2020.36

Contact:  For more information about this topic, please contact Dr. Ted Miller at

The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) is a leader in scientific knowledge and programs with a mission of PIRE is to promote, undertake, and evaluate activities, studies, and programs that improve individual and public health, welfare, and safety. In support of this mission, we create and support an environment within which skilled, innovative, diverse, and dedicated researchers and practitioners work to extend the frontiers of scientific knowledge and its application.


PIRE Centers:

Center for Health, Justice, and Equity

PIRE – Louisville

Mary Gordon –

Abadi, Melissa –

[email protected]  

[email protected] 

PIRE – Calverton

PIRE – Southwest

Mary Gordon –


[email protected]  

Cathleen Willging –

Mark Johnson – 

[email protected] 

[email protected]  

PIRE – Chapel Hill

PIRE – Prevention Research Center

Waller, Martha –


[email protected] 

Roland Moore –

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SOURCE Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation

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