Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Post-Moratorium Panel Data

Posted: 5 May 2003

See all articles by Hashem Dezhbakhsh

Hashem Dezhbakhsh

Emory University - Department of Economics

Paul H. Rubin

1350 Main St UNIT 1703

Joanna Shepherd

Emory University School of Law

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Abstract

Evidence on the deterrent effect of capital punishment is important for many states that are currently reconsidering their position on the issue. We examine the deterrent hypothesis using county-level, post-moratorium panel data and a system of simultaneous equations. The procedure we employ overcomes common aggregation problems, eliminates the bias arising from unobserved heterogeneity, and provides evidence relevant for current conditions. Our results suggest that capital punishment has a strong deterrent effect; each execution results, on average, in 18 fewer murders - with a margin of error of plus or minus 10. Tests show that results are not driven by tougher sentencing laws, and are also robust to many alternative specifications.

Keywords: Capital Punishment, death penalty, deterrence

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Dezhbakhsh, Hashem and Rubin, Paul H. and Shepherd, Joanna, Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Post-Moratorium Panel Data. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=386300

Hashem Dezhbakhsh

Emory University - Department of Economics ( email )

1602 Fishburne Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-4679 (Phone)
404-727-4639 (Fax)

Paul H. Rubin

1350 Main St UNIT 1703 ( email )

1350 Main Steet #1703
Sarasota, FL 34236
United States
14049310493 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.economics.emory.edu/Rubi.htm

Joanna Shepherd (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-8957 (Phone)

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