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State executions, deterrence, and the incidence of murder

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This study employs a panel of U.S. state-level data over the years 1978-1997 to estimate the deterrent effect of capital punishment. Particular attention is paid to problems of endogeneity bias arising from the non-random assignment of death penalty laws across states and a simultaneous relationship between murders and the deterrence probabilities. The primary innovation of the analysis lies in the estimation of a simultaneous equations system whose identification is based upon the employment of instrumental variables motivated by the theory of public choice. The estimation results suggest that structural estimates of the deterrent effect of capital punishment are likely to be downward biased due to the influence of simultaneity. Correcting for simultaneity, the estimates imply that a state execution deters approximately fourteen murders per year on average. Finally, the results also suggest that the announcement effect of capital punishment, as opposed to the existence of a death penalty provision, is the mechanism actually driving the deterrent effect associated with state executions.

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  • Paul R. Zimmerman, 2004. "State executions, deterrence, and the incidence of murder," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 7, pages 163-193, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cem:jaecon:v:7:y:2004:n:1:p:163-193
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    1. Lawrence Katz & Steven D. Levitt & Ellen Shustorovich, 2003. "Prison Conditions, Capital Punishment, and Deterrence," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 318-343, August.
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    9. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Donohue III, John J. & Wolfers, Justin, 2006. "Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate," IZA Discussion Papers 1949, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    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. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2011. "Econometric Estimates of Deterrence of the Death Penalty: Facts or Ideology?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 448-478, August.
    4. Berit C. Gerritzen & Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2013. "Facts or Ideology: What Determines the Results of Econometric Estimates of the Deterrence Effect of Death Penalty? A Meta-Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 4159, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Berit C. Gerritzen & Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2013. "Facts or Ideology: What Determines the Results of Econometric Estimates of the Deterrence Effect of Death Penalty?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2013-04, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    6. Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Paul Rubin, 2011. "From the 'econometrics of capital punishment' to the 'capital punishment' of econometrics: on the use and abuse of sensitivity analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(25), pages 3655-3670.
    7. Eide, Erling & Rubin, Paul H. & Shepherd, Joanna M., 2006. "Economics of Crime," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 2(3), pages 205-279, December.
    8. Michael Frakes & Matthew Harding, 2009. "The Deterrent Effect of Expansions in Death Penalty Eligibility Criteria," Discussion Papers 08-033, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    9. Paresh Kumar Narayan & Russell Smyth, 2006. "Dead man walking: an empirical reassessment of the deterrent effect of capital punishment using the bounds testing approach to cointegration," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(17), pages 1975-1989.
    10. Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Joanna M. Shepherd, 2006. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Evidence from a "Judicial Experiment"," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(3), pages 512-535, July.
    11. Paul R. Zimmerman, 2010. "The Economics of Capital Punishment and Deterrence," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Crime, chapter 16 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    12. Isaac Ehrlich, 2010. "The Market Model of Crime: A Short Review and New Directions," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Crime, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    13. Vincent Aidan O'Sullivan, 2018. "Hanging Down Under: Capital Punishment and Deterrence in Australia," Working Papers 228680000, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    14. Yang, Bijou & Lester, David, 2008. "The deterrent effect of executions: A meta-analysis thirty years after Ehrlich," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 453-460, September.
    15. Choe, Jongmook, 2009. "Another Look at the Deterrent Effect of Death Penalty," MPRA Paper 14071, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    capital punishment; deterrence; executions; murder;

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General

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