Marginal Deterrence at Work

42 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2017  

Rosario Crinò

Catholic University of Milan

Giovanni Immordino

University of Salerno - Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF)

Salvatore Piccolo

Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 25, 2017

Abstract

We test the rational economic model of marginal deterrence of law enforcement - i.e., the need for graduating the penalty to the severity of the crime. We combine individual-level data on sentence length for a representative sample of US inmates with proxies for maximum punishment and monitoring costs across US states over 50 years. Consistent with the theory of marginal deterrence, we show that sentence length is increasing in maximum penalty and decreasing in monitoring cost. We also provide evidence that steeper sanctions are associated with less severe crimes, consistent with marginal deterrence being effective. Overall, these findings favor the marginal deterrence framework over competing theories of justice.

Keywords: marginal deterrence, enforcement policies, individual-level data, death penalty

JEL Classification: K140, K400

Suggested Citation

Crinò, Rosario and Immordino, Giovanni and Piccolo, Salvatore, Marginal Deterrence at Work (September 25, 2017). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6665. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3057907

Rosario Crinò (Contact Author)

Catholic University of Milan ( email )

1 Largo A. Gemelli
Milano (Milan), 20123
Italy

Giovanni Immordino

University of Salerno - Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF) ( email )

84084 Fisciano, Salerno
Italy

Salvatore Piccolo

Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan ( email )

Largo Gemelli, 1
Via Necchi 9
Milan, MI 20123
Italy

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