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Rational Suicides: Evidence from Changes in Inmates' Expected Sentence Length

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  • Nadia Campaniello
  • Theodoros Diasakos
  • Giovanni Mastrobuoni

Abstract

Are suicides rational? At least since the 70's economists have been trying to shed light on this question by studying whether suicide rates are related to contemporaneous economic conditions. This paper goes one step further: we test whether suicides are linked to forward-looking behavior. In Italy, collective sentence reductions (pardons) often lead to massive releases of prisoners. More importantly, they are usually preceded by prolonged parliamentary activity (legislative proposals, discussion, voting, etc.) that inmates seem to follow closely. We use the legislative proposals for collective pardons to measure changes in the inmates' expectations about their date of release, and find that suicide rates tend to be significantly lower when pardons are proposed in congress. This suggests that, amongst inmates in Italian prisons, the average decision to commit suicide has a rational component.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Collegio Carlo Alberto in its series Carlo Alberto Notebooks with number 247.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:247

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Keywords: Suicides; Rationality; Pardons; Amnesty; Prison Conditions;

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  1. Jahyeong Koo & W. Michael Cox, 2008. "An Economic Interpretation Of Suicide Cycles In Japan," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(1), pages 162-174, 01.
  2. Brainerd, Elizabeth, 2001. "Economic Reform and Mortality in the Former Soviet Union: A Study of the Suicide Epidemic in the 1990s," IZA Discussion Papers 243, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Ludwig, Jens & Marcotte, Dave E. & Norberg, Karen, 2009. "Anti-depressants and suicide," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 659-676, May.
  4. Antonio Rodriguez Andres, 2005. "Income inequality, unemployment, and suicide: a panel data analysis of 15 European countries," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(4), pages 439-451.
  5. Dave E. Marcotte, 2003. "The Economics of Suicide, Revisited," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 628-643, January.
  6. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Soss, Neal M, 1974. "An Economic Theory of Suicide," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 83-98, Jan.-Feb..
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  1. Is pardoning prisoners the best way to keep jail costs low?
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-04-20 14:31:00

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