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Optimizing Criminal Behavior and the Disutility of Prison

Listed author(s):
  • Mastrobuoni, Giovanni

    ()

    (Collegio Carlo Alberto)

  • Rivers, David A.

    ()

    (University of Western Ontario)

We use rich microdata on bank robberies to estimate individual-level disutilities of imprisonment. The identification rests on the money versus apprehension trade-off that robbers face inside the bank when deciding whether to leave or collect money for an additional minute. The distribution of the disutility of prison is not degenerate, generating heterogeneity in behavior. Our results show that unobserved heterogeneity in ability is important for explaining outcomes in terms of haul and arrest. Furthermore, higher ability robbers are found to have larger disutilities, suggesting that increased sentence lengths might effectively target these more harmful criminals.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 10796.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: May 2017
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10796
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  2. Kessler, Daniel P & Levitt, Steven D, 1999. "Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 343-363, April.
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