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Joseph Stiglitz, Aaron Edlin, and J. Bradford DeLong

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231143653

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231143653.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

The Economics of Capital Punishment

The Economics of Capital Punishment

Chapter:
(p.237) Chapter 27 The Economics of Capital Punishment
Source:
The Economists' Voice
Author(s):

Richard A. Posner

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231143653.003.0027

This chapter presents an argument in favor of the United States continuing the practice of capital punishment, on the basis of its effectiveness as a deterrent. Early empirical analysis by Isaac Ehrlich (1975) found a substantial incremental deterrent effect of capital punishment, a finding that coincides with the common sense of the situation: it is exceedingly rare for a defendant who has a choice to prefer being executed to being imprisoned for life. Recent work by economists Hashem Dezhbakhsh, Paul Rubin, and Joanna Shepherd (2003) provides strong support for Ehrlich's thesis; these authors found, in a careful econometric analysis, that one execution deters eighteen murders. As for the risk of executing an innocent person, this is exceedingly small.

Keywords:   death penalty, capital punishment, deterrence, Isaac Ehrlich, Hashem Dezhbakhsh, Paul Rubin, Joanna Shepherd

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