Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

The Deterrence Effect of Prison: Dynamic Theory and Evidence

Contents:

Author Info

  • McCrary, Justin
  • Lee, David S.
Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    Using administrative, longitudinal data on felony arrests in Florida, we exploit the discontinuous increase in the punitiveness of criminal sanctions at 18 to estimate the deterrence effect of incarceration. Our analysis suggests a 2 percent decline in the log-odds of offending at 18, with standard errors ruling out declines of 11 percent or more. We interpret these magnitudes using a stochastic dynamic extension of Becker's (1968) model of criminal behavior. Calibrating the model to match key empirical moments, we conclude that deterrence elasticities with respect to sentence lengths are no more negative than -0.13 for young offenders.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL: http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/2gh1r30h.pdf;origin=repeccitec
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics in its series Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt2gh1r30h.

    as in new window
    Length:
    Date of creation: 31 Jul 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cdl:oplwec:qt2gh1r30h

    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: Boalt Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720
    Fax: (510) 642-3767
    Email:
    Web page: http://www.escholarship.org/repec/blewp/
    More information through EDIRC

    Related research

    Keywords:

    References

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. John Donohue & Steven Levitt, 2000. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," NBER Working Papers 8004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Pietro Vertova, 2009. "The Deterrent Effects of Prison: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 257-280, 04.
    3. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 1996. "Why is There More Crime in Cities?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1746, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    5. Jeffrey R. Kling & David Weiman & Bruce Western, 2001. "The Labor Market Consequences of Incarceration," Working Papers 829, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    6. Jerome Adda & Russell W. Cooper, 2003. "Dynamic Economics: Quantitative Methods and Applications," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262012014, December.
    7. Sickles, Robin C. & Williams, Jenny, 2008. "Turning from crime: A dynamic perspective," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 145(1-2), pages 158-173, July.
    8. Evans, William N. & Owens, Emily G., 2007. "COPS and crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 181-201, February.
    9. Klick, Jonathan & Tabarrok, Alexander, 2005. "Using Terror Alert Levels to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 267-79, April.
    10. Radha Iyengar, 2008. "I'd rather be Hanged for a Sheep than a Lamb: The Unintended Consequences of 'Three-Strikes' Laws," NBER Working Papers 13784, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Stigler, George J, 1970. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(3), pages 526-36, May-June.
    12. Viscusi, W Kip, 1986. "The Risks and Rewards of Criminal Activity: A Comprehensive Test of Criminal Deterrence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 317-40, July.
    13. McCall, John J, 1970. "Economics of Information and Job Search," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 113-26, February.
    14. Anne C. Case & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects of Family and Neighborhood on Disadvantaged Youths," NBER Working Papers 3705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Grogger, Jeffrey, 1995. "The Effect of Arrests on the Employment and Earnings of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 51-71, February.
    16. Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 45-76, March.
    17. William Adams & Liran Einav & Jonathan Levin, 2009. "Liquidity Constraints and Imperfect Information in Subprime Lending," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 49-84, March.
    18. Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson & David Pozen, 2009. "Building Criminal Capital behind Bars: Peer Effects in Juvenile Corrections-super-," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(1), pages 105-147, February.
    19. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence From Prison Overcrowding Litigation," NBER Working Papers 5119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
    21. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
    22. Randi Hjalmarsson, 2009. "Juvenile Jails: A Path to the Straight and Narrow or to Hardened Criminality?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(4), pages 779-809, November.
    23. Ilyana Kuziemko, 2007. "Going Off Parole: How the Elimination of Discretionary Prison Release Affects the Social Cost of Crime," NBER Working Papers 13380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Alejandro Gaviria & Steven Raphael, 2001. "School-Based Peer Effects And Juvenile Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 257-268, May.
    25. Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 2004. "Recursive Macroeconomic Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 026212274x, December.
    26. Eric Helland & Alexander Tabarrok, 2007. "Does Three Strikes Deter?: A Nonparametric Estimation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Aaron Chalfin & Justin McCrary, 2013. "The Effect of Police on Crime: New Evidence from U.S. Cities, 1960-2010," NBER Working Papers 18815, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Entorf, Horst, 2011. "Turning 18: What a Difference Application of Adult Criminal Law Makes," IZA Discussion Papers 5434, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Entorf, Horst, 2012. "Expected recidivism among young offenders: Comparing specific deterrence under juvenile and adult criminal law," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 414-429.
    4. Matteo Cervellati & Paolo Vanin, 2010. "”Thou shalt not covet ...”: Prohibitions, Temptation and Moral Values," Working Papers 2010.54, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    5. Entorf, Horst, 2012. "Certainty and Severity of Sanctions in Classical and Behavioral Models of Deterrence: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 6516, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2014. "The Ups and Downs in Women's Employment: Shifting Composition or Behavior from 1970 to 2010?," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 14-212, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    7. Akerlund, David & Golsteyn, Bart H.H. & Grönqvist, Hans & Lindahl, Lena, 2014. "Time Preferences and Criminal Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 8168, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:oplwec:qt2gh1r30h. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.