The Deterrent Effects of Prison: Evidence from a Natural Experiment
AbstractIn this paper we test for the theory of deterrence. We exploit the natural experiment provided by the Collective Clemency Bill passed by the Italian Parliament in July 2006. As a consequence of the provisions of the bill, expected punishment to former inmates recommitting a crime can be considered as good as randomly assigned. Based on a unique data set on post-release behaviour of former inmates, we find that an additional month in expected sentence reduces the propensity to recommit a crime by 1.24 percent: this corroborates the general deterrence hypothesis. However, this effect depends on the time previously served in prison: the behavioural response to an additional month of expected sentence decreases with the length of the prison spell. This second result can be hardly reconciled with the specific deterrence hypothesis according to which a stronger past experience of punishment should increase the sensitivity to future expected sanctions.
Download InfoIf 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.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2912.
Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2007
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org
Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Other versions of this item:
- 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.
- Drago, Francesco & Galbiati, Roberto & Vertova, Pietro, 2007. "The Deterrent Effects of Prison: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 6401, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
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.:
- Jeffrey R. Kling, 2006.
"Incarceration Length, Employment, and Earnings,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 863-876, June.
- Jeffrey R. Kling, 2004. "Incarceration Length, Employment, and Earnings," Working Papers 873, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
- Jeffrey R. Kling, 2006. "Incarceration Length, Employment, and Earnings," NBER Working Papers 12003, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Levitt, Steven D, 1996.
"The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence from Prison Overcrowding Litigation,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 319-51, May.
- 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.
- Gary S. Becker, 1974.
"Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach,"
in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Levitt, Steven D, 1998.
"Why Do Increased Arrest Rates Appear to Reduce Crime: Deterrence, Incapacitation, or Measurement Error?,"
Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 353-72, July.
- Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "Why Do Increased Arrest Rates Appear to Reduce Crime: Deterrence, Incapacitation, or Measurement Error?," NBER Working Papers 5268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Edward C. Norton & Hua Wang & Chunrong Ai, 2004. "Computing interaction effects and standard errors in logit and probit models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(2), pages 154-167, June.
- Levitt, Steven D. & Miles, Thomas J., 2007. "Empirical Study of Criminal Punishment," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
- Daniel Kessler & Steven D. Levitt, 1998.
"Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation,"
NBER Working Papers
6484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kessler, Daniel P & Levitt, Steven D, 1999. "Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 343-63, April.
- 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.
- David S. Lee & Justin McCrary, 2005. "Crime, Punishment, and Myopia," NBER Working Papers 11491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Emily G. Owens, 2009. "More Time, Less Crime? Estimating the Incapacitative Effect of Sentence Enhancements," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(3), pages 551-579, 08.
Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- The Spirit Level is junk science part deux (updated)
by Tino in Super-Economy on 2010-02-15 07:08:00
- Indulto, ultima spiaggia
by Giovanni Mastrobuoni in La Voce on 2013-10-11 10:20:38
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral 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: (Mark Fallak).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.