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Turning 18: What a Difference Application of Adult Criminal Law Makes

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  • Entorf, Horst

    () (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Abstract

This paper contributes to the literature on specific deterrence by addressing the issue of selecting adolescents into adult and juvenile law systems. In Germany, different from the U.S. and most other countries, turning a critical cutoff age does not cause a sharp discontinuity from juvenile to adult penal law, but rather implies a shift to a discretionary system of both adult and juvenile law, dependent on the courts' impression of moral and mental personal development of the adolescent at the time of the act. The German legal system draws the line of adulthood at some fuzzy age interval between 18 and 21, which is well above the thresholds prevailing in the U.S. (16 to 18 years, state specific) and other countries such that the German evidence entails some external evidence to the previous literature mostly relying on U.S. data. Based on a unique inmate survey and two-equation models controlling for selectivity problems, results show that application of adult criminal law instead of juvenile penal law decreases expected recidivism of adolescents.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5434
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Randi Hjalmarsson, 2009. "Juvenile Jails: A Path to the Straight and Narrow or to Hardened Criminality?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(4), pages 779-809, November.
    3. Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1156-1185, December.
    4. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2008. "Regression-Discontinuity Analysis: A Survey of Recent Developments in Economics," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 22(2), pages 219-245, June.
    5. Entorf Horst, 2009. "Crime and the Labour Market: Evidence from a Survey of Inmates," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 229(2-3), pages 254-269, April.
    6. Lance Lochner, 2007. "Individual Perceptions of the Criminal Justice System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 444-460, March.
    7. 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).
    8. McCrary, Justin & Lee, David S., 2009. "The Deterrence Effect of Prison: Dynamic Theory and Evidence," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt2gh1r30h, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    9. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
    10. White, Halbert, 1982. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Misspecified Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 1-25, January.
    11. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    12. Entorf, H. & Winker, P., 2008. "Investigating the drugs-crime channel in economics of crime models: Empirical evidence from panel data of the German States," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 8-22, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ana Maria Ibanez & Catherine Rodriguez & David Zarruk, 2013. "Crime, Punishment, and Schooling Decisions: Evidence from Colombian Adolescents," Research Department Publications IDB-WP-413, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    2. Ignacio Munyo, 2015. "The Juvenile Crime Dilemma," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(2), pages 201-211, April.
    3. Ana Maria Ibanez & Catherine Rodriguez & David Zarruk, 2013. "Crime, Punishment, and Schooling Decisions: Evidence from Colombian Adolescents," Research Department Publications IDB-WP-413, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    treatment effects; selection; survey data; recidivism; crime;

    JEL classification:

    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection
    • 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

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