IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp10796.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Optimizing Criminal Behavior and the Disutility of Prison

Author

Listed:
  • Mastrobuoni, Giovanni

    () (Collegio Carlo Alberto)

  • Rivers, David A.

    () (University of Western Ontario)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Mastrobuoni, Giovanni & Rivers, David A., 2017. "Optimizing Criminal Behavior and the Disutility of Prison," IZA Discussion Papers 10796, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10796
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp10796.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1992. "Enforcement Costs and the Optimal Magnitude and Probability of Fines," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 133-148, April.
    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.
    3. 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.
    4. Hlawitschka, Walter, 1994. "The Empirical Nature of Taylor-Series Approximations to Expected Utility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 713-719, June.
    5. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1999. "On the Disutility and Discounting of Imprisonment and the Theory of Deterrence," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-16, January.
    6. Viscusi, W Kip, 1993. "The Value of Risks to Life and Health," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1912-1946, December.
    7. 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, April.
    8. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Susanne M. Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 883-931, May.
    9. Ann Dryden Witte, 1980. "Estimating the Economic Model of Crime With Individual Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(1), pages 57-84.
    10. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 155-189, March.
    11. Mastrobuoni, Giovanni & Rivers, David A., 2016. "Criminal Discount Factors and Deterrence," IZA Discussion Papers 9769, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Levy, Haim, 1974. "The Rationale of the Mean-Standard Deviation Analysis: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 434-441, June.
    13. Tsiang, S C, 1972. "The Rationale of the Mean-Standard Deviation Analysis, Skewness Preference, and the Demand for Money," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(3), pages 354-371, June.
    14. Mundlak, Yair, 1978. "On the Pooling of Time Series and Cross Section Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 69-85, January.
    15. Orley Ashenfelter & Michael Greenstone, 2004. "Using Mandated Speed Limits to Measure the Value of a Statistical Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 226-267, February.
    16. Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1978. "An Economic Analysis of Crime and Punishment in England and Wales, 1894-1967," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 815-840, October.
    17. Levy, H & Markowtiz, H M, 1979. "Approximating Expected Utility by a Function of Mean and Variance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 308-317, June.
    18. David S. Abrams & Chris Rohlfs, 2011. "Optimal Bail And The Value Of Freedom: Evidence From The Philadelphia Bail Experiment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(3), pages 750-770, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    sentencing enhancements; severity; deterrence; crime; robberies; disutility of prison;

    JEL classification:

    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government

    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:iza:izadps:dp10796. 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: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: http://www.iza.org .

    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.