On the Public Finance of Capital Punishment

39 Pages Posted: 6 May 2019

See all articles by Alex Lundberg

Alex Lundberg

West Virginia University - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 5, 2019


A capital trial is a costly affair. When a local government bears the expense of trial, it must raise funds or reallocate them from other sources. In Texas, among other states, the cost of trial is borne primarily at the county level. A panel of Texas county spending over the last decade, constructed from audited financial statements, shows counties meet the expense of trial by raising property tax rates and by reducing public safety expenditure. Property crime rises as a consequence of the latter. The death penalty may therefore impede criminal deterrence if its finance is left to local, rather than centralized government.

Keywords: Capital Trial, Taxes, Crime, Death Penalty, Deterrence, Law Enforcement

JEL Classification: H72, H76, K14, K40, K42

Suggested Citation

Lundberg, Alexander, On the Public Finance of Capital Punishment (April 5, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3367170 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3367170

Alexander Lundberg (Contact Author)

West Virginia University - Department of Economics ( email )

Morgantown, WV 26506
United States

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