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Crime, Punishment, and Schooling Decisions: Evidence from Colombian Adolescents

  • David Zarruk
  • Catherine Rodríguez
  • Ana María Ibáñez

This paper uses a natural policy experiment to estimate how changes in the costs of engaging in criminal activity may influence adolescents¿ decisions in crime participation and school attendance. The study finds that, after an exogenous decrease in the severity of judicial punishment imposed on Colombian adolescents, crime rates in Colombian municipalities increased. This effect appears to be larger in municipalities with a higher proportion of adolescents between 14 and 15 years of age. The study provides suggestive evidence that one possible transmission channel for this effect is a decrease in the effort of the police force to capture teenage suspects. The study also finds that the probability that boys of this same age group attend school decreased following the change in the juvenile justice system. This effect is stronger for boys from homes where the heads of household are less educated.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank in its series IDB Publications (Working Papers) with number 82164.

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Date of creation: Jun 2013
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Handle: RePEc:idb:brikps:82164
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  1. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do about It?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 25-42, Winter.
  2. Berthelon, Matias E. & Kruger, Diana I., 2011. "Risky behavior among youth: Incapacitation effects of school on adolescent motherhood and crime in Chile," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1-2), pages 41-53, February.
  3. Sah, R.K., 1990. "Social Osmosis And Patterns Of Crime: A Dynamic Economic Analysis," Papers 609, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  4. Maurin, Eric & Ouss, Aurelie, 2009. "Sentence Reductions and Recidivism: Lessons from the Bastille Day Quasi Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 3990, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  6. David Bjerk, 2004. "Youth Criminal Participation and Household Economic Status," Department of Economics Working Papers 2004-10, McMaster University.
  7. Giulio Fella & Giovanni Gallipoli, 2008. "Education and Crime over the Life Cycle," Working Papers 630, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
  8. H. Naci Mocan & Daniel I. Rees, 1999. "Economic Conditions, Deterrence and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 7405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Sebastian Galiani & Paul Gertler & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2005. "Water for Life: The Impact of the Privatization of Water Services on Child Mortality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 83-120, February.
  10. Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1156-1185, December.
  11. Fender, John, 1999. "A general equilibrium model of crime and punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 437-453, July.
  12. Eric Helland & Alexander Tabarrok, 2007. "Does Three Strikes Deter?: A Nonparametric Estimation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
  13. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  14. Antonio Merlo & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2008. "The Transition from School to Jail: Youth Crime and High School Completion Among Black Males, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 09-002, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 16 Jan 2009.
  15. Drago, Francesco & Galbiati, Roberto & Vertova, Pietro, 2007. "The Deterrent Effects of Prison: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2912, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2001. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," NBER Working Papers 8605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Randi Hjalmarsson & Lance Lochner, 2012. "The Impact of Education on Crime: International Evidence," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 10(2), pages 49-55, 08.
  18. Jesse M. Shapiro, 2007. "Do Harsher Prison Conditions Reduce Recidivism? A Discontinuity-based Approach," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-29.
  19. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2009. "Criminal Recidivism after Prison and Electronic Monitoring," NBER Working Papers 15602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Entorf, Horst, 2011. "Turning 18: What a Difference Application of Adult Criminal Law Makes," MPRA Paper 29811, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  21. Berthelon, Matias E. & Kruger, Diana I., 2011. "Risky behavior among youth: Incapacitation effects of school on adolescent motherhood and crime in Chile," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 41-53.
  22. Schrag, Joel & Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1994. "Crime and Prejudice: The Use of Character Evidence in Criminal Trials," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 319-42, October.
  23. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2004. "Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 115-133, March.
  24. Hjalmarsson, Randi, 2008. "Criminal justice involvement and high school completion," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 613-630, March.
  25. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
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