Rationalizable Suicides: Evidence from Changes in Inmates' Expected Length of Sentence

42 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2014

See all articles by Nadia Campaniello

Nadia Campaniello

University of Essex

Theodoros Diasakos

University of Stirling - Department of Economics

Giovanni Mastrobuoni

University of Turin - Collegio Carlo Alberto; University of Essex - Department of Economics; IZA

Abstract

Is there a rational component in the decision to commit suicide? Economists have been trying to shed light on this question by studying whether suicide rates are related to contemporaneous conditions. This paper goes one step further: we test whether suicides are linked to forward-looking behavior. In Italy, collective sentence reductions (pardons) often lead to massive releases of prisoners. More importantly, they are usually preceded by prolonged parliamentary activity (legislative proposals, discussion, voting, etc.) that inmates seem to follow closely.We use the legislative proposals for collective pardons to measure changes in the inmates' expectations about the length of their sentences, and find that suicide rates tend to be significantly lower when par- dons are proposed in congress. This suggests that, amongst inmates in Italian prisons, the average decision to commit suicide responds to changes in current expectations about future conditions. At least partially, therefore, the decision seems rationalizable.

Keywords: suicides, rationality, prisons, collective pardons

JEL Classification: I1, D1, K4

Suggested Citation

Campaniello, Nadia and Diasakos, Theodoros and Mastrobuoni, Giovanni, Rationalizable Suicides: Evidence from Changes in Inmates' Expected Length of Sentence. IZA Discussion Paper No. 8333, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2468509

Nadia Campaniello (Contact Author)

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, Turin - Piedmont CO43SQ
United Kingdom

Theodoros Diasakos

University of Stirling - Department of Economics ( email )

Stirling, FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

Giovanni Mastrobuoni

University of Turin - Collegio Carlo Alberto ( email )

Piazza Arbarello 8
Torino, Torino 10122
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://www.carloalberto.org/people/faculty/assistant-professors-and-chairs/mastrobuoni/

University of Essex - Department of Economics ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

IZA ( email )

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