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Rehabilitation and social behavior: Experiments in prison

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  • Balafoutas, Loukas
  • García-Gallego, Aurora
  • Georgantzis, Nikolaos
  • Jaber-Lopez, Tarek
  • Mitrokostas, Evangelos

Abstract

Despite the economic and social significance of crime reduction and criminals' rehabilitation, research evaluating the effects of incarceration on behavior is surprisingly scarce. We conduct an experiment with 105 prison inmates and complement it with administrative data in order to explore several aspects of their social behavior. We first perform a comprehensive analysis of behavior in three economic games, finding evidence of discrimination against a sample from outside prison. In addition, our regression analysis reveals that inmates generally become less pro-social towards this out-group the longer they remain incarcerated. Finally, we introduce and evaluate a priming intervention that asks inmates to reflect on their time spent in prison. This intervention has a very sizeable and significant impact, increasing pro-sociality towards the out-group. Hence, a simple, low-cost intervention of this sort can have desirable effects in promoting rehabilitation and integration into social and economic life after release.

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  • Balafoutas, Loukas & García-Gallego, Aurora & Georgantzis, Nikolaos & Jaber-Lopez, Tarek & Mitrokostas, Evangelos, 2020. "Rehabilitation and social behavior: Experiments in prison," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 148-171.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:119:y:2020:i:c:p:148-171
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2019.10.009
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    Cited by:

    1. Guo, Shiqi & Liang, Pinghan & Xiao, Erte, 2020. "In-group bias in prisons," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 328-340.
    2. William Arbour & Guy Lacroix & Steeve Marchand, 2021. "Prison Rehabilitation Programs: Efficiency and Targeting," Working Papers tecipa-684, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Prison inmates; Social behavior; Rehabilitation; Experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • 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

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