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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 81810 Find in a Library
Title: On the Feasibility of Identifying the Crime Function in a Simultaneous Model of Crime Rates and Sanction Levels (From Deterrence and Incapacitation - Estimating the Effects of Criminal Sanctions on Crime Rates, P 361-399, 1978, Alfred Blumstein et al, ed. - See NCJ-44669)
Author(s): F M Fisher; D Nagin
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 39
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
US Dept of Health, Education, and Welfare
Washington, DC 20203
Grant Number: 1 R01 MH 28437-01
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Statistics
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper examines a variety of approaches to the identification of crime functions in a system where crimes and sanctions mutually affect each other and concludes that most research using only cross-sectional data cannot accurately assess the deterrent effect of punishment on crime.
Abstract: Although researchers have discovered a negative and often statistically significant association between crime rates and sanction measures, recent analyses have questioned these findings on the assumption that crimes and sanctions simultaneously influence each other. This paper reviews the rationales underlying this viewpoint, such as the hypothesis that society is willing to deliver only a limited amount of punishment, and then addresses its inherent problems in identifying the crime function. Simultaneous estimation procedures are detailed, along with restrictions that some researchers have used to identify the crime function. The difficulties of finding variables that influence sanctions but have no direct effect on crime are discussed, beginning with an analysis of simple models in which a single crime type and sanction type are simultaneously related. Criminal justice expenditures, prison cell utilization, and lagged sanctions are tested as restrictions, but all fail to identify the crime function. Also considered are the more complex but more realistic models in which a single crime type is simultaneously related to multiple sanction types and multiple crime types and a single sanction type are simultaneously related. These approaches also encounter problems that are fatal to valid identification. In conclusion, analyses using aggregate nonexperimental data must have a time series component, and estimation procedures must account for the possibility of serial correlation in the stochastic components of the specifications. A technical note on lagged models and 19 references are appended. See also NCJ 44669.
Index Term(s): Crime Rate; Deterrence effectiveness; Statistical analysis
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