When Does Crime Respond to Punishment?: Evidence from Drug-Free School Zones

61 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2020 Last revised: 15 Aug 2022

See all articles by Robert M Gonzalez

Robert M Gonzalez

Georgia Institute of Technology - School of Economics

Sarah Komisarow

Duke University - Sanford School of Public Policy

Ranae Jabri

National Bureau of Economic Research; Duke University, Department of Economics, Students

Date Written: August 12, 2022

Abstract

Economic theory suggests that crime should respond to punishment severity. However, empirical evidence on this link is ambiguous. We propose one explanation for this discrepancy: Punishments deter crime but only when the probability of detection is moderate. Using increases in punishment severity in drug-free school zones along with changes in the probability of detection resulting from a community crime-monitoring program, we demonstrate that drug-related crime drops in blocks just within the drug-free school zones, where punishments are more severe, but only if the monitoring intensity--and hence the probability of detection--is at intermediate levels.

Keywords: crime, deterrence, punishment, fines

JEL Classification: K40, K42, H40

Suggested Citation

Gonzalez, Robert M and Komisarow, Sarah and Jabri, Ranae, When Does Crime Respond to Punishment?: Evidence from Drug-Free School Zones (August 12, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3604498 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3604498

Robert M Gonzalez (Contact Author)

Georgia Institute of Technology - School of Economics ( email )

217 Habersham
Atlanta, GA 30332
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.robertmgonzalez.com

Sarah Komisarow

Duke University - Sanford School of Public Policy ( email )

Durham, NC

Ranae Jabri

National Bureau of Economic Research ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Duke University, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Durham, NC
United States

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