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Free to Punish? The American Dream and the harsh Treatment of Criminals

Juan Dubra () and Rafael Di Tella

No 1105, Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers from Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo.

Abstract: We describe the evolution of selective aspects of punishment in the US over the period 1980-2004. We note that imprisonment increased around 1980, a period that coincides with the “Reagan revolution” in economic matters. We build an economic model where beliefs about economic opportunities and beliefs about punishment are correlated. We present three pieces of evidence (across countries, within the US and an experimental exercise) that are consistent with the model.

Keywords: Beliefs; Multiple equilibria; Illegal behavior; Sentences (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: P16 K14 E62 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011
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