Chapter

The Impact of Incentives on Human Behavior: Can We Make It Disappear? The Case of the Death Penalty

Naci Mocan and Kaj Gittings

in The Economics of Crime

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780226153742
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226153766 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226153766.003.0012
The Impact of Incentives on Human Behavior: Can We Make It Disappear? The Case of the Death Penalty

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The chapter focuses on incentives, turning its attention to variation in sentencing, but it gives more stress on the death penalty and its potential effect of scaring off criminals and deterring future crimes. Even though in Latin America there is no formal death penalty, the estimates are of some interest given that it is possible that changes in the death penalty are salient and might well be the main way tougher sentences are communicated to potential offenders. People incarcerated are sometimes killed, or become infected with life-threatening illnesses such as HIV-AIDS, which might play a role similar to that of an informal death penalty. The authors estimate a large number of models linking crime (murder rates) and outcomes related to the death penalty. Also, the results are in contrast to previous research that finds no effects of the death penalty on crime.

Keywords: incentives; death penalty; criminals; life-threatening; sentencing; crime

Chapter.  16451 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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