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Does punishment of minor sexual offences deter rapes? Longitudinal evidence from France

  • Nicolas Gérard Vaillant

    (LEM - Lille - Economie et Management - CNRS : UMR8179 - Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille - Lille I - Fédération Universitaire et Polytechnique de Lille)

  • François-Charles Wolff

    (LEMNA - Laboratoire d'économie et de management de Nantes Atlantique - Université de Nantes : EA4272)

Using original French panel data, this paper investigates the relevance of the broken windows theory in case of an offence category featured by the absence of monetary benefits. Estimates from random and fixed effects models highlight the deterrent effect of sanctions for rapes and minor sexual offences. The enforcement activity of rapes is the most deterrent factor both for rapes and other sexual offences, compared with the rapes- and minor sexual offences-reducing impact of an increase in the enforcement activity for minor sexual offences. Our results cast doubt on the broken windows theory. From a normative perspective, it would be more efficient to deter the authors of rapes rather than those of less severe sexual offences.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Working Papers with number hal-00424479.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00424479
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  9. John J. Donohue, III & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  10. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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