Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect - Dezhbakhsh and Shepard

Does Capital - Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect New Evidence from Postmoratorium Panel Data Hashem Dezhbakhsh and Paul H Rubin Emory

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Unformatted text preview: Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Postmoratorium Panel Data Hashem Dezhbakhsh and Paul H. Rubin, Emory University , and Joanna M. Shepherd, Clemson University and Emory University 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 by using county-level, postmoratorium 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 eighteen fewer murders—with a margin of error of plus or minus ten. Tests show that results are not driven by tougher sentencing laws and are robust to many alternative specifications. 1. Introduction The acrimonious debate over capital punishment has continued for cen- turies (Beccaria, 1764; Stephen, 1864). In recent decades the debate has heated up in the United States following the Supreme Court–imposed We gratefully acknowledge helpful discussions with Issac Ehrlich and comments by Badi Baltagi, Robert Chirinko, Keith Hylton, David Mustard, George Shepherd, and participants in the 1999 Law and Economics Association Meetings, 2000 American Economics Association Meetings, and workshops at Emory University, Georgia State University, Northwestern University, and Purdue University. We are also indebted to an anonymous referee for valuable suggestions. The usual disclaimer applies. Send correspondence to: Joanna M. Shepherd, John E. Walker Department of Economics, 222 Sirrine Hall, Box 341309, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634- 1309; Fax: (864) 656-4192; E-mail: [email protected] American Law and Economics Review Vol. 5 No. 2, # American Law and Economics Association 2003; all rights reserved. DOI: 10.1093/aler/ahg021 344 moratorium oncapital punishment. 1 Currently,severalstates areconsidering achangeintheirpoliciesregardingthestatusofthedeathpenalty.Nebraska’s legislature, for example, recently passed a two-year moratorium on executions, which was, however, vetoed by the state’s governor. Ten other states have at least considered a moratorium last year (‘‘Execution Reconsidered,’’ 1999, p. 27). The group includes Oklahoma, whose legis- lature will soon consider a bill imposing a two-year moratorium on execu- tions and establishing a task force to research the effectiveness of capital punishment. The legislatures in Nebraska and Illinois have also called for similar research. In Massachusetts, however, the House of Representatives voted down a bill supported by the governor to reinstate the death penalty....
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This note was uploaded on 12/11/2007 for the course ECON 4040 taught by Professor Hay during the Fall '07 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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Does Capital - Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect New Evidence from Postmoratorium Panel Data Hashem Dezhbakhsh and Paul H Rubin Emory

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