More Guns, More Time: Using Add-On Gun Laws to Estimate the Deterrent Effect of Incarceration on Crime
50 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2006
Knowing the magnitude of the deterrent effect of incarceration on crime is crucial to optimal policy setting. In this paper I make use of sentence enhancements in gun robbery sentence lengths caused by add-on gun laws to attempt to estimate this impact. Since defendants subject to add-ons would be incarcerated in the absence of the law change, the short-term effect will be solely deterrent. I take advantage of the temporal variation in the passage of these laws in different states to identify the causal impact of the law change. I find that add-on gun laws result in a significant reduction in gun robberies, approximately 5% within the first three years of passage, for the average add-on gun law. The results are robust to a number of tests, and do not appear to be due to a large spillover to other types of crime.
Keywords: deterrence, incarceration, crime, guns
JEL Classification: J24, K14, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation