IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/fip/fedbqu/qau07-3.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Model uncertainty and the deterrent effect of capital punishment

Author

Listed:
  • Ethan Cohen-Cole
  • Steven N. Durlauf
  • Jeffrey Fagan
  • Daniel Nagin

Abstract

The reintroduction of capital punishment after the end of the Supreme Court moratorium has permitted researchers to employ state level heterogeneity in the use of capital punishment to study deterrent effects. However, no scholarly consensus exists as to their magnitude. A key reason this has occurred is that the use of alternative models across studies produces differing estimates of the deterrent effect. Because differences across models are not well motivated by theory, the deterrence literature is plagued by model uncertainty. We argue that the analysis of deterrent effects should explicitly recognize the presence of model uncertainty in drawing inferences. We describe methods for addressing model uncertainty and apply them to understand the disparate findings between two major studies in the deterrence literature, finding that evidence of deterrent effects appears, while not nonexistent, is weak.

Suggested Citation

  • Ethan Cohen-Cole & Steven N. Durlauf & Jeffrey Fagan & Daniel Nagin, 2007. "Model uncertainty and the deterrent effect of capital punishment," Risk and Policy Analysis Unit Working Paper QAU07-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbqu:qau07-3
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.bostonfed.org/bankinfo/qau/wp/2007/qau0703.htm
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.bostonfed.org/bankinfo/qau/wp/2007/qau0703.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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.
    2. 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.
    3. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1975. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Question of Life and Death," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 397-417, June.
    4. Steven N. Durlauf, 2006. "Assessing Racial Profiling," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(515), pages 402-426, November.
    5. repec:rus:hseeco:70719 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Carmen Fernandez & Eduardo Ley & Mark F. J. Steel, 2001. "Model uncertainty in cross-country growth regressions," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(5), pages 563-576.
    7. Mocan, H Naci & Gittings, R Kaj, 2003. "Getting Off Death Row: Commuted Sentences and the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 453-478, October.
    8. Leamer, Edward E, 1983. "Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 31-43, March.
    9. Xavier Sala-I-Martin & Gernot Doppelhofer & Ronald I. Miller, 2004. "Determinants of Long-Term Growth: A Bayesian Averaging of Classical Estimates (BACE) Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 813-835, September.
    10. 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).
    11. Donohue John & Wolfers Justin J, 2006. "The Death Penalty: No Evidence for Deterrence," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 3(5), pages 1-6, April.
    12. 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.
    13. Randi Hjalmarsson, 2008. "Does Capital Punishment have a "Local" Deterrent Effect on Homicides?," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 310-334.
    14. McAleer, Michael & Veall, Michael R, 1989. "How Fragile Are Fragile Inferences? A Re-evaluation of the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(1), pages 99-106, February.
    15. Rubin Paul H., 2006. "Reply to Donohue and Wolfers on the Death Penalty and Deterrence," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 3(5), pages 1-3, April.
    16. Ehrlich, Isaac & Liu, Zhiqiang, 1999. "Sensitivity Analyses of the Deterrence Hypothesis: Let's Keep the Econ in Econometrics," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 455-487, April.
    17. Hjort N.L. & Claeskens G., 2003. "Frequentist Model Average Estimators," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 98, pages 879-899, January.
    18. Passell, Peter & Taylor, John B, 1977. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Another View," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 445-451, June.
    19. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1977. "Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Some Further Thoughts and Additional Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(4), pages 741-788, August.
    20. McManus, Walter S, 1985. "Estimates of the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: The Importance of the Researcher's Prior Beliefs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 417-425, April.
    21. Bruce E. Hansen, 2007. "Least Squares Model Averaging," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(4), pages 1175-1189, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Koop, Gary & Leon-Gonzalez, Roberto & Strachan, Rodney, 2012. "Bayesian model averaging in the instrumental variable regression model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 171(2), pages 237-250.
    2. León-González, Roberto & Montolio, Daniel, 2015. "Endogeneity and panel data in growth regressions: A Bayesian model averaging approach," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 23-39.
    3. Ampaabeng, Samuel K. & Tan, Chih Ming, 2013. "The long-term cognitive consequences of early childhood malnutrition: The case of famine in Ghana," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1013-1027.
    4. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2011. "Econometric Estimates of Deterrence of the Death Penalty: Facts or Ideology?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 448-478, August.
    5. Samuel K. Ampaabeng & Chih Ming Tang, 2012. "The Long-Term Cognitive Consequences of Early Childhood Malnutrition: The Case of Famine in Ghana," Working Paper series 64_12, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    6. Moral-Benito, Enrique, 2010. "Model averaging in economics," MPRA Paper 26047, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Theo S. Eicher & Alex Lenkoski & Adrian Raftery, 2009. "Bayesian Model Averaging and Endogeneity Under Model Uncertainty: An Application to Development Determinants," Working Papers UWEC-2009-19-FC, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Capital punishment;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedbqu:qau07-3. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Andrei Zlate). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/frbbous.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.