Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1163: Age-Dependent Court Sentences and Crime Bunching: Empirical Evidence from Swedish Administrative Data

Björn Tyrefors Hinnerich (), Mårten Palme () and Mikael Priks ()
Additional contact information
Björn Tyrefors Hinnerich: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: and Department of Economics, Stockholm University
Mårten Palme: Department of Economics, Postal: Stockholm University
Mikael Priks: Department of Economics, Postal: Stockholm University

Abstract: According to Swedish penal code, there is a “rebate” on all prison sentences before the 21st birthday. We exploit this age discontinuity to investigate how individuals respond to harsher punishments. We use a large Swedish dataset, including dates for all crimes which led to convictions for cohorts born during the period 1973–1993. We find evidence of “bunching” in the sense that more crimes were committed during the week prior to a 21st birthday, followed by a reduction in crime during the week after this birthday. We do not, however, find that harsher punishment reduces the crime rate permanently.

Keywords: General deterrence; Prison; Sorting; Age thresholds

JEL-codes: D90; K40

Language: English

28 pages, April 3, 2017

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