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

  • Ana Maria Ibanez
  • Catherine Rodriguez
  • David Zarruk

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, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number IDB-WP-413.

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Date of creation: Jun 2013
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Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:idb-wp-413
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  4. Sebastian Galiani & Paul Gertler & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2002. "Water for Life: The Impact of the Privatization of Water Services on Child Mortality," Working Papers 54, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Sep 2005.
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  7. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2009. "Criminal Recidivism after Prison and Electronic Monitoring," NBER Working Papers 15602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Pietro Vertova, 2009. "The Deterrent Effects of Prison: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 257-280, 04.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Entorf, Horst, 2011. "Turning 18: What a Difference Application of Adult Criminal Law Makes," MPRA Paper 29811, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  16. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do About It?," NBER Working Papers 5451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. 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.
  18. Hjalmarsson, Randi, 2008. "Criminal justice involvement and high school completion," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 613-630, March.
  19. Eric Helland & Alexander Tabarrok, 2007. "Does Three Strikes Deter?: A Nonparametric Estimation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
  20. Fender, John, 1999. "A general equilibrium model of crime and punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 437-453, July.
  21. 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.
  22. Steven D. Levitt, 1997. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," NBER Working Papers 6191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. 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).
  24. David Bjerk, 2004. "Youth Criminal Participation and Household Economic Status," Department of Economics Working Papers 2004-10, McMaster University.
  25. 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.
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