Crime and Expected Punishment: Changes in Perceptions at the Age of Criminal Majority
University of Maryland - School of Public Policy
American Law and Economics Review, Vol. 11, Issue 1, pp. 209-248, 2009
This paper assesses whether perceived punishment severity changes discontinuously when an individual becomes an adult in the eyes of the courts. I find that the perceived chance of jail increases by 5.2 percentage points at the age of criminal majority, which is over and above the general effect of aging. The magnitude of this subjective change in the chance of jail at the age of majority appears to be substantially smaller than that found in objective data. Finally, a reduced-form analysis of whether self-reported criminal behavior changes discontinuously at the age of criminal majority finds little consistent evidence of deterrence.
JEL Classification: D01, K42
Date posted: August 25, 2009