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Indirect Effects of a Policy Altering Criminal Behaviour: Evidence from the Italian Prison Experiment

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Abstract

We exploit the Collective Clemency Bill passed by the Italian Parliament in July 2006 to evaluate the indirect effects of a policy that randomly commutes actual sentences to expected sentences for 40 percent of the Italian prison population. We estimate the direct and indirect impact of the residual sentence – corresponding to a month less time served in prison associated with a month of expected sentence – at the date of release on individual recidivism. Using prison, nationality and region of residence to construct reference groups of former inmates, we find large indirect effects of this policy. In particular, we find that the reduction in the individuals’ recidivism due to an increase in their peers’ residual sentence is at least as large as their response to an increase in their own residual sentence. From this result we estimate a social multiplier in crime of 2.

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Paper provided by Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy in its series CSEF Working Papers with number 270.

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Date of creation: 14 Dec 2010
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Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:270

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Keywords: Crime; Natural Experiment; Indirect Effects of Policies; Social Interactions;

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  1. Maurin, Eric & Moschion, Julie, 2006. "The Social Multiplier and Labour Market Participation of Mothers," IZA Discussion Papers 2513, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The Role Of Information And Social Interactions In Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence From A Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 815-842, August.
  3. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2009. "Criminal Recidivism after Prison and Electronic Monitoring," NBER Working Papers 15602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Drago, Francesco & Galbiati, Roberto & Vertova, Pietro, 2008. "Prison Conditions and Recidivism," IZA Discussion Papers 3395, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  7. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2001. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," NBER Working Papers 8605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
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  10. Jesse M. Shapiro, 2007. "Do Harsher Prison Conditions Reduce Recidivism? A Discontinuity-based Approach," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-29.
  11. Rafael Lalive & M. Alejandra Cattaneo, 2009. "Social Interactions and Schooling Decisions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 457-477, August.
  12. Donohue, John J, III & Siegelman, Peter, 1998. "Allocating Resources among Prisons and Social Programs in the Battle against Crime," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-43, January.
  13. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1996. "On Using Linear Regressions in Welfare Economics," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(4), pages 478-86, October.
  14. David Skarbek, 2010. "Putting the "Con" into Constitutions: The Economics of Prison Gangs," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(2), pages 183-211.
  15. 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.
  16. Esther Dufluo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The role of information and social interactions in retirement plan decisions: Evidence from a randomized experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00141, The Field Experiments Website.
  17. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2004. "Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 115-133, March.
  18. Paolo Buonanno & Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Giulio Zanella, 2011. "Crime in Europe and the United States: dissecting the ‘reversal of misfortunes’," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 26(67), pages 347-385, 07.
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Cited by:
  1. Benjamin Monnery, 2013. "The determinants of recidivism among ex-prisoners: a survival analysis on French data," Working Papers 1320, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  2. Gioia De Melo, 2014. "Peer Effects Identified Through Social Networks: Evidence from Uruguayan Schools," Working Papers 2014-05, Banco de México.
  3. Lucifora, Claudio & Tonello, Marco, 2012. "Students' Cheating as a Social Interaction: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in a National Evaluation Program," IZA Discussion Papers 6967, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Lindquist, Matthew J. & Zenou, Yves, 2014. "Key Players in Co-Offending Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 8012, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2012. "Legal status and the criminal activity of immigrants," Working Papers 052, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
  6. Mastrobuoni, Giovanni, 2014. "The Value of Connections: Evidence from the Italian-American Mafia," IZA Discussion Papers 7925, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. 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.

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