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Marginal Deterrence at Work

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  • Rosario Crinò
  • Giovanni Immordino
  • Salvatore Piccolo

Abstract

We test the rational economic model of marginal deterrence of law enforcement - i.e., the need for graduating the penalty to the severity of the crime. We combine individual-level data on sentence length for a representative sample of US inmates with proxies for maximum punishment and monitoring costs across US states over 50 years. Consistent with the theory of marginal deterrence, we show that sentence length is increasing in maximum penalty and decreasing in monitoring cost. We also provide evidence that steeper sanctions are associated with less severe crimes, consistent with marginal deterrence being e¤ective. Overall, these findings favor the marginal deterrence framework over competing theories of justice.

Suggested Citation

  • Rosario Crinò & Giovanni Immordino & Salvatore Piccolo, 2017. "Marginal Deterrence at Work," CESifo Working Paper Series 6665, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6665
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    Cited by:

    1. Rosario Crino & Giovanni Immordino & Gülen Karakoç-Palminteri & Salvatore Piccolo, 2018. "Fighting Mobile Crime," CSEF Working Papers 504, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    marginal deterrence; enforcement policies; individual-level data; death penalty;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General

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