In 2003 researchers at the Australian Institute of Criminology dug through a decade’s-worth of old newspaper records, undercover police operations, and homicide databases to study the price and motivations of hiring a hitman. 

According to this study, the average payment to a hired killer was about $15K (converted to US dollars) and over half of all hitmen got less than $9K for their services:

chart, bar chart

Data via the Australian Institute of Criminology

This is a remarkably little amount of money for someone to commit a very serious (and risky crime). Thankfully, only 7 out of 10 attempted hits are actually successful according to the data set.

But why are people looking for hitmen, anyways? Hollywood may have trained us to think gangs, drugs, and assassination attempts, but relationship issues were the most common motivations:

chart, bar chart, funnel chart

Data via the Australian Institute of Criminology

Almost 20% of the attempted hits were due to impending divorce, break-up, or cheating spouses. In contrast, less than 10% were linked to criminal networks, and 6% were drug-related. 

Obviously, Priceonomics readers are not looking to become assassins, but here we have some very clear data that this form of crime does not pay.

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