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Free to Punish? The American Dream and the Harsh Treatment of Criminals

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  • Rafael Di Tella
  • Juan Dubra

Abstract

We describe the evolution of selective aspects of punishment in the US over the period 1980-2004. We note that imprisonment increased around 1980, a period that coincides with the “Reagan revolution” in economic matters. We build an economic model where beliefs about economic opportunities and beliefs about punishment are correlated. We present three pieces of evidence (across countries, within the US and an experimental exercise) that are consistent with the model.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17309.

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Date of creation: Aug 2011
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Publication status: published as Di Tella, Rafael. "Free to Punish? The American Dream and the Harsh Treatment of Criminals." Cato Papers on Public Policy 1 (2011).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17309

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  1. Benoît, Jean-Pierre & Dubra, Juan, 2007. "Overconfidence?," MPRA Paper 6017, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Nov 2007.
  2. Roland Benabou & Jean Tirole, 2011. "Laws and Norms," NBER Working Papers 17579, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Rafael Di Tella & Juan Dubra, 2006. "Crime and Punishment in the "American Dream"," NBER Working Papers 12641, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rafael Di Tella & Sebastian Edwards & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2010. "The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dite09-1, July.
  5. Eric Rasmusen, 1995. "``Stigma and Self-Fulfilling Expectations of Criminality''," Law and Economics, EconWPA 9506001, EconWPA.
  6. Hall, Peter A. & Soskice, David (ed.), 2001. "Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780199247752, October.
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  1. Economic freedom and prisons
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-09-16 14:02:00
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Cited by:
  1. Fernando Borraz & Cecilia Chouhy & Irene Mussio & Máximo Rossi, 2013. "Vigilante Justice and Police Protocols in the Latin American South Cone," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers), Department of Economics - dECON 0913, Department of Economics - dECON.

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  1. Economic Logic blog

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