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Eine panelökonometrische Evaluation des deutschen Strafverfolgungssystems / A Panel-econometric Evaluation of the German Criminal Prosecution System

  • Spengler Hannes

    ()

    (Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (DIW), Königin-Luise-Straße 5, D-14195 Berlin, Germany)

According to the economic theory of crime, a rise in expected punishment - i.e. the product of probability and severity of punishment - results in a reduction of crime due to deterrence. What appears to be a simple and straightforward hypothesis turns out to be a demanding task for empirical examination because “crime” is composed of many different offence categories and expected punishment is influenced by the actions and decisions of different institutions such as police, public prosecutor’s office and the courts, and, thus, varies with respect to clearance and conviction rate as well as decisions regarding form (fine, probation, imprisonment) and size (length of prison sentence and size of fine) of punishment. Moreover, it makes a difference whether offenders are subject to general or juvenile criminal law. Usually, empirical analyses of crime/deterrence take simultaneous account of only a fraction of the items detailed above. In order to overcome this shortcoming the author has established a unique database combining information from different sources of official judicial statistics covering the German states for the period 1977-2001. Building on this database a comprehensive system of criminal prosecution indicators is derived and subsequently related to the incidence of six major offence categories using panel-econometrics. Revealing many negative significant effects for clearance and conviction rates but mostly insignificant coefficients for indicators of form and size of punishment the estimation results suggest that deterrence is mainly exerted at the initial levels of the criminal prosecution process. Finally, the econometric estimates are used in order to assess cost reductions for crime victims from increases in the severity of criminal prosecution. Thus, intensifying criminal prosecution permanently by 10 percent would reduce victims’ costs by at least € 250 million p.a.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik).

Volume (Year): 226 (2006)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 687-714

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Handle: RePEc:jns:jbstat:v:226:y:2006:i:6:p:687-714
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  1. Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1156-1185, December.
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  4. Hannes Spengler, 2006. "Eine panelökonometrische Überprüfung der ökonomischen Theorie der Kriminalität mit deutschen Bundesländerdaten," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 548, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
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  9. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-90, June.
  10. Entorf, Horst & Spengler, Hannes, 1998. "Socio-economic and demographic factors of crime in Germany: evidence from panel data of the German states," ZEW Discussion Papers 98-16, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
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