Age-Dependent Court Sentences and Crime Bunching: Empirical Evidence from Swedish Administrative Data
Posted: 19 Apr 2017
Date Written: April 14, 2017
According to Swedish penal code, there is a “rebate” on all prison sentences before the 21st birthday. We exploit this age discontinuity to investigate how individuals respond to harsher punishments. We use a large Swedish dataset, including dates for all crimes which led to convictions for cohorts born during the period 1973-1993. We find evidence of “bunching” in the sense that more crimes were committed during the week prior to a 21st birthday, followed by a reduction in crime during the week after this birthday. We do not, however, find that harsher punishment reduces the crime rate permanently.
Keywords: General deterrence; Prison; Sorting; Age thresholds
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