IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/aejapp/v4y2012i4p32-56.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Estimating the Deterrent Effect of Incarceration Using Sentencing Enhancements

Author

Listed:
  • David S. Abrams

Abstract

Increasing criminal sanctions may reduce crime through two primary mechanisms: deterrence and incapacitation. Disentangling their effects is crucial for optimal policy setting. I use sentence enhancements due to the introduction of state add-on gun laws to isolate the deterrent effect of incarceration. Using cross-state variation in the timing of law passage dates, I find that the average add-on gun law results in a roughly 5 percent decline in gun robberies within the first 3 years. This result is robust to a number of specification tests and does not appear to be associated with large spillovers to other types of crime. (JEL K14, K42)

Suggested Citation

  • David S. Abrams, 2012. "Estimating the Deterrent Effect of Incarceration Using Sentencing Enhancements," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 32-56, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:4:y:2012:i:4:p:32-56
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.4.4.32
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/app.4.4.32
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aej/app/data/2011-0005_data.zip
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aej/app/app/2011-0005_app.pdf
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Randi Hjalmarsson, 2008. "Crime and Expected Punishment: Changes in Perceptions at the Age of Criminal Majority," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 209-248.
    2. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    3. 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.
    4. Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1156-1185, December.
    5. Bjerk, David, 2005. "Making the Crime Fit the Penalty: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion under Mandatory Minimum Sentencing," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(2), pages 591-625, October.
    6. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-565, May-June.
    7. 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, August.
    8. 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 343-363, April.
    9. 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, April.
    10. Steven D. Levitt, 1996. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence from Prison Overcrowding Litigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 319-351.
    11. Kessler, Daniel P & Piehl, Anne Morrison, 1998. "The Role of Discretion in the Criminal Justice System," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 256-276, October.
    12. Eric Helland & Alexander Tabarrok, 2007. "Does Three Strikes Deter?: A Nonparametric Estimation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
    13. Dan Silverman, 2004. "Street Crime And Street Culture," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 761-786, August.
    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


    Cited by:

    1. Ater, Itai & Givati, Yehonatan & Rigbi, Oren, 2014. "Organizational structure, police activity and crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 62-71.
    2. Benjamin Hansen, 2015. "Punishment and Deterrence: Evidence from Drunk Driving," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(4), pages 1581-1617, April.
    3. Rasmus Landersø, 2015. "Does Incarceration Length Affect Labor Market Outcomes?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(1), pages 205-234.
    4. repec:eee:transa:v:113:y:2018:i:c:p:1-19 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Tyrefors Hinnerich, Björn & Palme, Mårten & Priks, Mikael, 2017. "Age-Dependent Court Sentences and Crime Bunching: Empirical Evidence from Swedish Administrative Data," Working Paper Series 1163, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    6. Michael Luca & Deepak Malhotra & Christopher Poliquin, 2016. "The Impact of Mass Shootings on Gun Policy," Harvard Business School Working Papers 16-126, Harvard Business School, revised Oct 2016.
    7. Mueller-Smith, Michael & Schnepel, Kevin T., 2016. "Avoiding Convictions: Regression Discontinuity Evidence on Court Deferrals for First-Time Drug Offenders," Working Papers 2016-16, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
    8. repec:bla:ausecr:v:49:y:2016:i:4:p:515-523 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Mueller-Smith, Michael & Schnepel, Kevin T., 2016. "Avoiding Convictions: Regression Discontinuity Evidence on Court Deferrals for First-Time Drug Offenders," IZA Discussion Papers 10409, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. repec:aea:aejpol:v:9:y:2017:i:3:p:291-313 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Estimating the Deterrent Effect of Incarceration Using Sentencing Enhancements (AEJ:AE 2012) in ReplicationWiki

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:4:y:2012:i:4:p:32-56. 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: (Michael P. Albert). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.