Certainty vs. Severity Revisited: Evidence for Colombia

41 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2016

See all articles by Camilo Acosta

Camilo Acosta

Universidad EAFIT - School of Economics and Finance - Center for Research in Economic & Finance (CIEF)

Daniel Mejia

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

Angela Zorro Medina

Yale Law School; University of Chicago - Department of Sociology

Date Written: June 15, 2016

Abstract

A recurring debate in the literature on crime control is whether an increase in the probability of punishment is a more effective deterrent than an increase in the severity of the sanction. This paper further explores this issue in the context of crime in Colombia. We use a natural policy experiment (the introduction of the Adversarial System of Criminal Justice) to estimate how changes in the costs associated with criminal activity have affected crime rates in the country. The results show that for the Colombian case, when a reform reduces the probability of punishment it leads to an increase in crime rates across a variety of different types of criminal activity, including both violent crimes and property theft. Moreover, our evidence suggests that changes in the probability of punishment have greater impact in crime rates than changes in its severity. This has important implications for public policy regarding crime rates and the design of judicial mechanisms.

Keywords: Law and Economics, Crime Economics, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Certainty, Severity, Colombia

JEL Classification: K42, K14, K41, J18

Suggested Citation

Acosta Mejia, Camilo and Mejia, Daniel and Zorro Medina, Angela, Certainty vs. Severity Revisited: Evidence for Colombia (June 15, 2016). Documento CEDE No. 2016-21, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2798972 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2798972

Camilo Acosta Mejia (Contact Author)

Universidad EAFIT - School of Economics and Finance - Center for Research in Economic & Finance (CIEF) ( email )

Carrera 49 No. 7 South - 50
Medellin
Colombia

Daniel Mejia

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1 No. 18 A - 10
Bogotá, AA4976
Colombia
57(1)3394949 ext 3737 (Phone)
57(1)3324492 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://economia.uniandes.edu.co/share/scripts/home/home.php

Angela Zorro Medina

Yale Law School ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

University of Chicago - Department of Sociology ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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