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Is Being 'Soft on Crime' the Solution to Rising Crime Rates? Evidence from Germany

Author

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  • Entorf, Horst

    () (Goethe University Frankfurt)

  • Spengler, Hannes

    () (University of Applied Sciences Mainz)

Abstract

Based on a theoretical framework on informal, custodial and non-custodial sentencing, the paper provides econometric tests on the effectiveness of police, public prosecution and courts. Using a unique dataset covering German states for the period 1977–2001, a comprehensive system of criminal prosecution indicators is derived and subsequently related to the incidence of six major offence categories using panel-econometrics. Empirical evidence suggests that the criminal policy of diversion failed as increasing shares of dismissals by prosecutors and judges enhance crime rates in Germany. Crime is significantly deterred by higher clearance and conviction rates, while the effects of indicators representing type (fine, probation, imprisonment) and severity (length of prison sentence, size of fine) of punishment are often small and insignificant.

Suggested Citation

  • Entorf, Horst & Spengler, Hannes, 2008. "Is Being 'Soft on Crime' the Solution to Rising Crime Rates? Evidence from Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3710, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3710
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bruno S. Frey, 2011. "Punishment – and Beyond," Contemporary Economics, University of Finance and Management in Warsaw, vol. 5(2), June.
    2. Lastauskas, Povilas & Tatsi, Eirini, 2017. "Spatial Nexus in Crime and Unemployment in Times of Crisis," Working Paper Series 2/2017, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    3. Entorf, Horst, 2011. "Turning 18: What a Difference Application of Adult Criminal Law Makes," IZA Discussion Papers 5434, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Entorf, Horst, 2008. "Wirkung und Effizienz von Strafrecht: "Was geht?" - bei jungen Gewalttätern?," ZEW Discussion Papers 08-056, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    5. Paul R. Zimmerman, 2010. "The Economics of Capital Punishment and Deterrence," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Crime, chapter 16 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Entorf, Horst, 2012. "Certainty and Severity of Sanctions in Classical and Behavioral Models of Deterrence: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 6516, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    evaluation of policy reforms; econometrics of crime; panel econometrics;

    JEL classification:

    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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