Essays In The Economics Of Crime And Punishment

Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment

Gary Becker and William M. Landes

in NBER Books from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Date: 1974
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Chapters in this book:

Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach , pp 1-54
Gary Becker
The Optimum Enforcement of Laws , pp 55-67
George Stigler
Participation in Illegitimate Activities: An Economic Analysis , pp 68-134
Isaac Ehrlich
The Bail System: An Economic Approach , pp 135-163
William Landes
An Economic Analysis of the Courts , pp 164-214
William Landes
The Behavior of Administrative Agencies , pp 215-261
Richard Posner

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This dissertation studies topics in the economics of crime and family. In the first chapter, I examine transfer schedules for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and find a causal relationship between the time directly after monthly payment and reports of intimidation against women by their intimate partners. This study supports the hypothesis that the husband uses violence or the threat of violence as an instrument to gain control over the allocation of household resources. I also find that states who pay TANF recipients twice a month do not have this effect, suggesting that smaller, more frequent payments can reduce the husband's incentives to use terror as a bargaining tool. In the second chapter, which is a joint work with Alex Henke, we examine how the death penalty affects the incidence of reported child rape for different types of offenders. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled capital punishment for child rape unconstitutional. We use this natural experiment to find evidence that the death penalty reduces reported child rapes for strangers and acquaintances. This evidence suggests that capital punishment deters potential offenders from committing child rape. In the third chapter, according to household bargaining theories of domestic violence, when a woman's relative wage increases, her bargaining power increases, which leads to less domestic violence. This paper suggests that bargaining power can insulate the woman from the effects of weather shocks on the male partner's marginal utility of violence. I exploit the exogenous local variation in temperature at the county level to estimate the effect of weather and the gender wage gap on domestic violence. Specifically, I study the influence of extreme temperature on male-to-female intimate partner violence and how the influence changes with the gender wage ratio.


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