Deterability by Age

32 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2011 Last revised: 18 Jan 2012

See all articles by Gregory J. DeAngelo

Gregory J. DeAngelo

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University

Shawn D. Bushway

University at Albany; RAND Corporation

Benjamin Hansen

University of Oregon - Department of Economics; NBER; IZA

Date Written: July 8, 2011


There is a growing cost-benefit conversation about the best policy strategies to prevent crime (e.g. Donohue and Siegelman, 1998; Durlauf and Nagin, 2011; Cook, Ludwig, and McCrary in press). Part of this conversation focuses on identifying the best strategies for preventing crime by particular population sub-groups. This conversation mirrors developments in criminology, where the discussion has changed from a “what works” mentality to a “what works for whom” mentality. One of the most meaningful subgroups for this discussion is adolescents and young adults, who are responsible for a large percentage of overall crime. For example, people in the 15 to 24 age group account for 14% of the population but 40% of all arrests reported to the Uniform Crime Reporting system in 2009 (Crime in the United States, 2009, Table 38). The aim of the current research is to examine the role that age plays, if any, when changes in the legal environment are not age specific. In short, we find that an exogenous reduction in the likelihood of being apprehended results in a uniform augmentation in the egregiousness of the criminal activity (regardless of age). However, we do not find evidence to support a hypothesis of age-driven egregiousness of criminal activity. Instead, we find that all age groups respond quasi-uniformly to reductions in their likelihood of being apprehended.

Keywords: Deterrence, Enforcement, Age

JEL Classification: K10, K42

Suggested Citation

DeAngelo, Gregory Joseph and Bushway, Shawn D. and Hansen, Benjamin, Deterability by Age (July 8, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Gregory Joseph DeAngelo (Contact Author)

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Shawn D. Bushway

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