Giulia Lotti, 05 September 2020

More than half of all young offenders in the US are rearrested within the first year of their release from prison. And yet, the relationship between crime and punishment remains understudied. This column examines three quasi-experiments and the criminal records of 6,444 offenders in England and Wales to compare the effects of harsh versus rehabilitative incarceration practices. The findings suggest that young offenders sent to rehabilitative facilities are less likely to reoffend, while those exposed to harsher facilities are 27% more likely to reoffend, and also more likely to commit future violent offences. 

Manudeep Bhuller, Gordon Dahl, Katrine V. Løken, Magne Mogstad, 24 March 2019

Incarceration rates have tripled in the US and almost doubled in Western Europe over the past 50 years. This column uses data on the criminal behaviour and labour market outcomes of every Norwegian to show that in contrast to the US, where incarceration appears to encourage reoffending and damages labour prospects, the Norwegian prison system is successful in increasing participation in job training programmes, encouraging employment, and discouraging crime. It argues that Norway’s high rehabilitation expenditures are more than offset by the corresponding benefits to society.

Amanda Agan, Michael Makowsky, 10 November 2018

Individuals with a criminal record face difficulties in the labour market that can compel them to reoffend. This column reveals how increases in the minimum wage in the US reduce the likelihood of recently released felons being reincarcerated, while an income-related tax subsidy has a similar effect for women, but not men. The results suggest significant welfare benefits from policiesthat help raise wages above the potential income from criminal activity.

Francesco Drago, Roberto Galbiati, Pietro Vertova, 30 July 2007

Among the many factors that influence the decision to commit a crime, public law and sanctioning activity play a crucial role. The authors of CEPR DP6401 find that among their dataset in Italy an additional month of expected punishment reduces the propensity to recommit a crime by 1.24%.

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