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Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Post-Moratorium Panel Data

49 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2007  

Hashem Dezhbakhsh

Emory University - Department of Economics

Paul H. Rubin

Emory University - Department of Economics

Joanna Shepherd

Emory University School of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2003

Abstract

Evidence on the deterrent effect of capital punishment is important for many states that are currently reconsidering their position on the issue. We examine the deterrent hypothesis using county-level, post-moratorium panel data and a system of simultaneous equations. The procedure we employ overcomes common aggregation problems, eliminates the bias arising from unobserved heterogeneity, and provides evidence relevant for current conditions. Our results suggest that capital punishment has a strong deterrent effect; each execution results, on average, in 18 fewer murders%97with a margin of error of plus or minus 10. Tests show that results are not driven by tougher sentencing laws, and are also robust to many alternative specifications.

Keywords: Capital Punishment; death penalty; deterrence

JEL Classification: K0, K4

Suggested Citation

Dezhbakhsh, Hashem and Rubin, Paul H. and Shepherd, Joanna, Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Post-Moratorium Panel Data (October 2003). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=259538 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.259538

Hashem Dezhbakhsh

Emory University - Department of Economics ( email )

1602 Fishburne Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-4679 (Phone)
404-727-4639 (Fax)

Paul H. Rubin (Contact Author)

Emory University - Department of Economics ( email )

1602 Fishburne Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-931-0493 (Phone)
630-604-9609 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.economics.emory.edu/Rubi.htm

Joanna Shepherd

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-8957 (Phone)

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