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From the "Econometrics of Capital Punishment" to the "Capital Punishment" of Econometrics: On the Use and Abuse of Sensitivity Analysis

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  • Hashem Dezhbakhsh
  • Paul Rubin

Abstract

The academic debate over the deterrent effect of capital punishment has intensified again with a major policy outcome at stake. About two dozen empirical studies have recently emerged that explore the issue. Donohue and Wolfers (2005) claim to have examined the recent studies and shown the evidence is not robust to specification changes. We argue that the narrow scope of their study does not warrant this claim. Moreover, focusing on our two studies that they have examined, we show the deterrence findings to be robust, while their work has serious flaw in analysis and selectivity in reporting the results. The selectivity is biased toward showing "no deterrence." This highlights the importance of a proper framework for guiding the sensitivity analysis of published work to guard against data-mining and agenda-driven empiricism. We hope that our study generates interests in appropriate ways to do sensitivity analysis of published work as much as it contributes to the debate about capital punishment.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta) in its series Emory Economics with number 0715.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
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Handle: RePEc:emo:wp2003:0715

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  1. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1975. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Question of Life and Death," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 397-417, June.
  2. Clive W. J. Granger & Harald F. Uhlig, 1988. "Reasonable extreme bounds analysis," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 2, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  8. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1977. "Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Some Further Thoughts and Additional Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(4), pages 741-88, August.
  9. H. Naci Mocan & R. Kaj Gittings, 2001. "Pardons, Executions and Homicide," NBER Working Papers 8639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Lott, John R, Jr & Mustard, David B, 1997. "Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-68, January.
  11. Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Joanna M. Shepherd, 2003. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Evidence from a "Judicial Experiment"," Emory Economics 0314, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
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  28. repec:reg:wpaper:129 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Paul H. Rubin & Joanna M. Shepherd, 2003. "Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Postmoratorium Panel Data," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 344-376, August.
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  31. Chressanthis, George A., 1989. "Capital punishment and the deterrent effect revisited: Recent time-series econometric evidence," Journal of Behavioral Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 81-97.
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  33. Yunker, James A., 1976. "Is the death penalty a deterrent to homicide? Some time series evidence," Journal of Behavioral Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 45-81.
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Cited by:
  1. Durlauf, Steven N. & Navarro, Salvador & Rivers, David A., 2010. "Understanding aggregate crime regressions," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 158(2), pages 306-317, October.
  2. Steven N. Durlauf & Chao Fu & Salvador Navarro, 2011. "Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Understanding Disparate Results," Working Papers 2012-005, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  3. Naci Mocan & Kaj Gittings, 2010. "The Impact of Incentives on Human Behavior: Can We Make it Disappear? The Case of the Death Penalty," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America, pages 379-418 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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