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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: Vol. 4 No. 2 (April 2012)

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Indirect Effects of a Policy Altering Criminal Behavior: Evidence from the Italian Prison Experiment

Article Citation

Drago, Francesco, and Roberto Galbiati. 2012. "Indirect Effects of a Policy Altering Criminal Behavior: Evidence from the Italian Prison Experiment." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 4(2): 199-218.

DOI: 10.1257/app.4.2.199

Abstract

We exploit the 2006 Italian prison pardon to evaluate peer effects in criminal behavior. The pardon randomly commutes actual sentences to expected sentences for 40 percent of the Italian prison population. Using prison and geographical origin to construct reference groups for former inmates, we find large indirect effects of this policy. In particular, we find that the reduction in the individuals' recidivism due to an increase in their peers' residual sentence is at least as large as their response to an increase in their own residual sentence. From this result we estimate a social multiplier in crime of two. (JEL D12, K42, Z13)

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Authors

Drago, Francesco (U Naples "Federico II")
Galbiati, Roberto (CNRS, EconomiX and Sciences Po, Paris)

JEL Classifications

D12: Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
K42: Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
Z13: Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification

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