Some empirical evidence on offender time discount rates

Torre, Andrew and Wraith, Darren 2012, Some empirical evidence on offender time discount rates, Economic papers, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 192-201, doi: 10.1111/j.1759-3441.2011.00152.x.

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Title Some empirical evidence on offender time discount rates
Author(s) Torre, AndrewORCID iD for Torre, Andrew
Wraith, Darren
Journal name Economic papers
Volume number 31
Issue number 2
Start page 192
End page 201
Total pages 10
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia
Place of publication Richmond, Vic.
Publication date 2012-06
ISSN 0812-0439
Keyword(s) time discount rate
specific deterrence
plea choice
Summary The conventional wisdom is that offenders have very high discount rates not only with respect to income and fines but also with respect to time incarcerated. These rates are difficult to measure objectively and the usual approach is to ask subjects hypothetical questions and infer time preference from their answers. In this article, we propose estimating rates at which offenders discount time incarcerated by specifying their equilibrium plea, defined as the discount rate, which equates the time and expected time spent in jail following a guilty plea and a trial. Offenders are assumed to exhibit positive time preference and discount time spent in jail at a constant rate. Our choice of sample is interesting because the offenders are not on bail, punishment is not delayed and the offences are planned therefore conforming to Becker’s model of the decision to commit a crime. Contrary to the discussion in the literature, we do not find evidence of consistently high time discount rates, and therefore cannot unequivocally infer that the prison experience always results in low levels of specific deterrence.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/j.1759-3441.2011.00152.x
Field of Research 140299 Applied Economics not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 910299 Microeconomics not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2012, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia
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