IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/spo/wpmain/infohdl2441-12b1pd86do8s6p35b4jqn66t0p.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Political Cost of Being Soft on Crime: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Francesco Drago

    (Università degli studi di Napoli Federico II)

  • Roberto Galbiati

    (Département d'économie)

  • Francesco Sobbrio

Abstract

This study analyses voters' response to criminal justice policies by exploiting a natural experiment. The 2006 Italian Collective Pardon Bill, designed and promoted by the incumbent center-left (CL) coalition, unexpectedly released about one-third of the prison population, creating idiosyncratic incentives to recidivate across pardoned individuals. Municipalities where resident pardoned individuals had a higher incentive to recidivate experienced a higher recidivism rate. We show that in those municipalities voters "punished'' the CL coalition in the 2008 parliamentary elections. A one standard deviation increase in the incentive to recidivate-corresponding to an increase of recidivism of 15.9 percent-led to a 3.06 percent increase in the margin of victory of the center-right (CR) coalition in the post-pardon national elections (2008) relative to the last election before the pardon (2006). We also provide evidence of newspapers being more likely to report crime news involving pardoned individuals and of voters hardening their views on the incumbent national government's ability to control crime. Our findings indicate that voters keep politicians accountable by conditioning their vote on the observed effects of public policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Francesco Sobbrio, 2019. "The Political Cost of Being Soft on Crime: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/12b1pd86do8, Sciences Po.
  • Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/12b1pd86do8s6p35b4jqn66t0p
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://spire.sciencespo.fr/hdl:/2441/12b1pd86do8s6p35b4jqn66t0p/resources/2019-drago-galbiati-sobbrio-the-political-cost-of-being-soft-on-crime.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Puglisi Riccardo, 2011. "Being The New York Times: the Political Behaviour of a Newspaper," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-34, April.
    2. Enriqueta Aragonès & Micael Castanheira & Marco Giani, 2015. "Electoral Competition through Issue Selection," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 59(1), pages 71-90, January.
    3. Healy, Andrew & Malhotra, Neil, 2009. "Myopic Voters and Natural Disaster Policy," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 103(3), pages 387-406, August.
    4. Ernesto Dal Bó & Pedro Dal Bó & Erik Eyster, 2018. "The Demand for Bad Policy when Voters Underappreciate Equilibrium Effects," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 85(2), pages 964-998.
    5. Claire S. H. Lim & James M. Snyder Jr. & David Strömberg Jr., 2015. "The Judge, the Politician, and the Press: Newspaper Coverage and Criminal Sentencing across Electoral Systems," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 103-135, October.
    6. Adi Brender & Allan Drazen, 2008. "How Do Budget Deficits and Economic Growth Affect Reelection Prospects? Evidence from a Large Panel of Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2203-2220, December.
    7. Mastrorocco, Nicola & Minale, Luigi, 2018. "News media and crime perceptions: Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 230-255.
    8. Manuel Bagues & Berta Esteve-Volart, 2016. "Politicians’ Luck of the Draw: Evidence from the Spanish Christmas Lottery," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(5), pages 1269-1294.
    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, April.
    10. Hopkins, Daniel J. & Pettingill, Lindsay M., 2018. "Retrospective Voting in Big-City US Mayoral Elections," Political Science Research and Methods, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(4), pages 697-714, October.
    11. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2015. "Legal Status and the Criminal Activity of Immigrants," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 175-206, April.
    12. Wolfers, Justin, 2002. "Are Voters Rational? Evidence from Gubernatorial Elections," Research Papers 1730, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    13. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661314.
    14. Dal Bó, Ernesto & Dal Bó, Pedro & Eyster, Erik, 2018. "The demand for bad policy when voters underappreciate equilibrium effects," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 74455, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
    16. Francesco Drago & Tommaso Nannicini & Francesco Sobbrio, 2014. "Meet the Press: How Voters and Politicians Respond to Newspaper Entry and Exit," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 159-188, July.
    17. Timothy Besley & Andrea Prat, 2006. "Handcuffs for the Grabbing Hand? Media Capture and Government Accountability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 720-736, June.
    18. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2008. "Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil's Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 703-745.
    19. Decio Coviello & Andrea Ichino & Nicola Persico, 2015. "The Inefficiency Of Worker Time Use," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(5), pages 906-947, October.
    20. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 21-36, March.
    21. Carlos Berdejó & Noam Yuchtman, 2013. "Crime, Punishment, and Politics: An Analysis of Political Cycles in Criminal Sentencing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 741-756, July.
    22. Mastrobuoni, Giovanni & Rivers, David A., 2016. "Criminal Discount Factors and Deterrence," IZA Discussion Papers 9769, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    23. Robert Barro, 1973. "The control of politicians: An economic model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-42, March.
    24. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati, 2012. "Indirect Effects of a Policy Altering Criminal Behavior: Evidence from the Italian Prison Experiment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 199-218, April.
    25. Gregory A. Huber & Sanford C. Gordon, 2004. "Accountability and Coercion: Is Justice Blind when It Runs for Office?," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 48(2), pages 247-263, April.
    26. Maurin, Eric & Ouss, Aurelie, 2009. "Sentence Reductions and Recidivism: Lessons from the Bastille Day Quasi Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 3990, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    27. Chad Kendall & Tommaso Nannicini & Francesco Trebbi, 2015. "How Do Voters Respond to Information? Evidence from a Randomized Campaign," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(1), pages 322-353, January.
    28. Lorenzo Casaburi & Ugo Troiano, 2016. "Ghost-House Busters: The Electoral Response to a Large Anti–Tax Evasion Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(1), pages 273-314.
    29. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-290, June.
    30. Nicola Mastrorocco & Luigi Minale, 2016. "Information and Crime Perceptions: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1601, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    31. Stephen Ansolabehere & Marc Meredith & Erik Snowberg, 2014. "Mecro-Economic Voting: Local Information and Micro-Perceptions of the Macro-Economy," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(3), pages 380-410, November.
    32. Peter K. Enns, 2014. "The Public's Increasing Punitiveness and Its Influence on Mass Incarceration in the United States," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 58(4), pages 857-872, October.
    33. Lofstrom, Magnus & Raphael, Steven, 2013. "Incarceration and Crime: Evidence from California's Public Safety Realignment Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 7838, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    34. Hall, Melinda Gann, 2001. "State Supreme Courts in American Democracy: Probing the Myths of Judicial Reform," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 95(2), pages 315-330, June.
    35. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati, 2012. "Indirect Effects of a Policy Altering Criminal Behavior: Evidence from the Italian Prison Experiment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 199-218, April.
    36. John Duggan & César Martinelli, 2017. "The Political Economy of Dynamic Elections: Accountability, Commitment, and Responsiveness," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(3), pages 916-984, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Mathieu Couttenier & Sophie Hatte & Mathias Thoenig & Stephanos Vlachos, 2019. "The Logic of Fear: Populism and Media Coverage of Immigrant Crimes," Working Papers halshs-02095658, HAL.
    2. Russo, Giuseppe & Salsano, Francesco, 2019. "Electoral systems and immigration," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
    3. Francesca Calamunci & Francesco Drago, 2020. "The Economic Impact of Organized Crime Infiltration in the Legal Economy: Evidence from the Judicial Administration of Organized Crime Firms," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 6(2), pages 275-297, July.
    4. Meier, Armando N. & Levav, Jonathan & Meier, Stephan, 2020. "Early Release and Recidivism," IZA Discussion Papers 13035, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Abrams, David & Galbiati, Roberto & Henry, Emeric & Philippe, Arnaud, 2019. "Electoral Sentencing Cycles," CEPR Discussion Papers 14049, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Stefano Castriota & Mirco Tonin, 2019. "Stay or Flee? Probability versus Severity of Punishment in Hit-and-run Accidents," BEMPS - Bozen Economics & Management Paper Series BEMPS65, Faculty of Economics and Management at the Free University of Bozen.
    7. Mastrorocco, Nicola & Minale, Luigi, 2018. "News media and crime perceptions: Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 230-255.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Nicolas Ajzenman & Ruben Durante, 2019. "Salience and Accountability: School Infrastructureand Last-Minute Electoral Punishment," School of Government Working Papers 201905, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
    2. Nicolas Ajzenman & Ruben Durante, 2019. "Salience and Accountability: School Infrastructureand Last-Minute Electoral Punishment," School of Government Working Papers wp_gob_2019_3, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
    3. George Ward, 2015. "Is Happiness a Predictor of Election Results?," CEP Discussion Papers dp1343, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    4. Larcinese, Valentino & Sircar, Indraneel, 2017. "Crime and punishment the British way: Accountability channels following the MPs’ expenses scandal," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 75-99.
    5. Ward, George, 2015. "Is happiness a predictor of election results?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 61698, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Alesina, A. & Passalacqua, A., 2016. "The Political Economy of Government Debt," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 2599-2651, Elsevier.
    7. Avdeenko, Alexandra, 2018. "Long-term evidence of retrospective voting: A natural experiment from the German Democratic Republic," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 83-107.
    8. Scott Gehlbach & Konstantin Sonin & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2010. "Businessman Candidates," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 54(3), pages 718-736, July.
    9. Benjamin Monnery, 2015. "The determinants of recidivism among ex-prisoners: a survival analysis on French data," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 37-56, February.
    10. Paolo Pinotti, 0. "The Credibility Revolution in the Empirical Analysis of Crime," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 0, pages 1-14.
    11. Ahlquist, John S. & Ichino, Nahomi & Wittenberg, Jason & Ziblatt, Daniel, 2018. "How do voters perceive changes to the rules of the game? Evidence from the 2014 Hungarian elections," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 906-919.
    12. Arbatli, Cemal Eren & Gomtsyan, David, 2019. "Voting retrospectively: Critical junctures and party identification," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 356-390.
    13. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2010. "Disclosure by Politicians," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 179-209, April.
    14. Alberto Alesina & Filipe R. Campante & Guido Tabellini, 2008. "Why is Fiscal Policy Often Procyclical?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(5), pages 1006-1036, September.
    15. Liu, Wai-Man & Ngo, Phong T.H., 2014. "Elections, political competition and bank failure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(2), pages 251-268.
    16. Joseph J. Capuno & Stella A. Quimbo & Aleli D. Kraft & Carlos Antonio R. Tan, Jr. & Vigile Marie B. Fabella, 2012. "Perks and public provisions : Effects of yardstick competition on local government fiscal behavior in the Philippines," UP School of Economics Discussion Papers 201208, University of the Philippines School of Economics.
    17. Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Konstantin Sonin, 2018. "Social Media and Corruption," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 150-174, January.
    18. Hélène Laurent, 2021. "Corruption and politicians’ horizon," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 65-91, March.
    19. Gonzalez, Paula & Hindriks, Jean J.G. & Lockwood, Ben & Porteiro, Nicolas, 2006. "Political Budget Cycles and Fiscal Decentralization," CEPR Discussion Papers 5646, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    20. Nicola Mastrorocco, 2018. "Organised Crime, Captured Politicians and the Allocation of Public Resources," Trinity Economics Papers tep1018, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2019.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Accountability; Retrospective Voting; Natural Experiment; Crime; Recidivism; Media;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

    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:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/12b1pd86do8s6p35b4jqn66t0p. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ecspofr.html .

    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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Spire @ Sciences Po Library (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ecspofr.html .

    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.