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Optimal Criminal Behavior and the Disutility of Jail: Theory and Evidence On Bank Robberies

  • Giovanni Mastrobuoni

Based on unique data on individual bank robberies perpetrated in Italy between 2005 and 2007, this paper estimates the distribution of criminals' disutility of jail. The identification rests on the money versus risk trade-off criminals face when deciding whether to stay an additional minute robbing the bank. When robbers are successful in robbing a bank and the observed duration is assumed to be the optimal one, the disutility of jail represents the only unknown determinant of that optimal duration. One can thus solve for the disutility as a function of the expected marginal haul, average haul, and hazard rate of arrest.

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File URL: http://www.carloalberto.org/assets/working-papers/no.220.pdf
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Paper provided by Collegio Carlo Alberto in its series Carlo Alberto Notebooks with number 220.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:220
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  1. Viscusi, W Kip, 1993. "The Value of Risks to Life and Health," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1912-46, December.
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  8. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 1999. "Why Is There More Crime in Cities?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S225-S258, December.
  9. Block, M K & Heineke, J M, 1975. "A Labor Theoretic Analysis of the Criminal Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 314-25, June.
  10. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
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  12. Ashenfelter, Orley & Greenstone, Michael, 2002. "Using Mandated Speed Limits to Measure the Value of a Statistical Life," IZA Discussion Papers 571, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Viscusi, W Kip, 1986. "The Risks and Rewards of Criminal Activity: A Comprehensive Test of Criminal Deterrence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 317-40, July.
  14. Jeff Grogger, 1997. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," NBER Working Papers 5983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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