The Political Cost of Being Soft on Crime: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

54 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2017

See all articles by Francesco Drago

Francesco Drago

University of Messina, CSEF & CEPR

Roberto Galbiati

Department of Economics, Sciences Po-CNRS

Francesco Sobbrio

Luiss Guido Carli University; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Abstract

We provide evidence about voters' response to crime control policies. We exploit a natural experiment arising from the Italian 2006 collective pardon releasing about one third of the prison population. The pardon created idiosyncratic incentives to recidivate across released individuals and municipalities. We show that municipalities where resident pardoned individuals have a higher incentive to recidivate experienced higher recidivism. Moreover, in these municipalities: i) newspapers were more likely to report crime news involving pardoned individuals; ii) voters held worse beliefs on the incumbent governments ability to control crime and iii) with respect to the previous elections, the incumbent national government experienced a worse electoral performance in the April 2008 national elections relative to the opposition coalition. Overall, our findings indicate that voters keep incumbent politicians accountable by conditioning their vote on the observed effects of their policies.

Keywords: accountability, voting, natural experiment, crime, recidivism

JEL Classification: D72, K42

Suggested Citation

Drago, Francesco and Galbiati, Roberto and Sobbrio, Francesco, The Political Cost of Being Soft on Crime: Evidence from a Natural Experiment. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10858, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2998967

Francesco Drago (Contact Author)

University of Messina, CSEF & CEPR ( email )

Piazza Pugliatti 1
Messina
Italy

Roberto Galbiati

Department of Economics, Sciences Po-CNRS ( email )

28 rue des saints peres
Paris, 75007
France

Francesco Sobbrio

Luiss Guido Carli University ( email )

Viale Romania 32
Rome, Roma 00197
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/francescosobbrio/

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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