Inter-American Seminar on Economics
The NBER and the Universidad Torcuato di Tella (UTDT) in Buenos Aires, Argentina jointly sponsored this year's Inter-American Seminar on Economics on "Crime, Institutions, and Policies." The conference took place in Buenos Aires on November 29 and 30. The organizers were: Sebastian Edwards, University of California, Los Angeles and NBER; Rafael Di Tella, Harvard Business School and NBER; and Ernesto Schargrodsky, UTDT. They chose these papers for discussion:
Naci Mocan, Louisiana State University and NBER, and Kaj Gittings, Cornell University, "The Impact of Incentives on Human Behavior: Can We Make it Disappear? The Case of the Death Penalty"
Comments: Lucia Quesada, UTDT
Joao M. P. De Mello, Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, and Alexandre Schneider, Secretary of Education for the city of Sao Paulo, "Age Structure Explaining a Large Shift in Homicides: the Case of the State of Sao Paulo"
Comments: Lucas Llach, UTDT
Brendan O'Flaherty and Rajiv Sethi, Columbia University, "Peaceable Kingdoms and War Zones: Preemption, Ballistics, and Murder in Newark"
Comments: Guitlermo Cruces,
Ana Maria Ibanez and Andres Moya, Universidad de los Andes, "Do Conflicts Create Poverty Traps? Asset Losses and Recovery for Displaced Households in Colombia"
Comments: Martin Gonzalez Rozada, UTDT
Radha Iyengar, Harvard University and NBER, "Does the Certainty of Arrest Reduce Domestic Violence? Evidence from Mandatory and Recommended Arrest Laws"
Comments: Rafael Di Tella
Ernesto Schargrodsky and Rafael Di Tella, "Electronic Monitoring of Inmates"
Comments: Nestor Gandelman, Universidad ORT Uruguay
Angela K. Dills, Mercer University; Garret Summers, Harvard University; and Jeffrey A. Miron, Harvard University and NBER, "What Do Economists Know about Crime?"
Comments: Sebastian Edwards
Carlos Medina and Leonardo Morales, Banco de la Republica de Colombia; Alejandro Gaviria, Universidad de los Andes; and Jairo Nunez, Centro Nacional de Consultoria, "The Cost of Avoiding Crime: the Case of Bogota"
Comments: Alfredo Canavese, UTDT
Mirko Draca, London School of Economics; Stephen Machin, London School of Economics; and Robert Witt, University of Surrey, "Panic on the Streets of London: Police, Crime, and the July 2005 Terror Attacks"
Comments: Catherine Rodriguez, Universidad de los Andes
Maria Laura Alzua, IERAL-Fundacion Mediterranea; Catherine Rodriguez; and Edgar Villa, Universidad del Externado, "The Effect of Education on In-jail Conflict"
Comments: Andres Borenstein, British Embassy Buenos Aires
Sheng-Wen Chang, National Chengchi University; N. Edward Coulson, Penn State University; and Ping Wang, Washington University in St. Louis and NBER, "A Quantitative Study of Optimal Drug Policy in Low Income Neighborhoods"
Comments: Federico Weinschelbaum, UdeSA
Rodrigo R. Soares, University of Maryland and NBER, and Joana Naritomi, World Bank, "Understanding High Crime Rates in Latin America: the Role of Social and Policy Factors"
Comments: Alejandro Gaviria, Universidad de los Andes
Although decades of empirical research has demonstrated that criminal behavior responds to incentives, non-economists frequently express the belief that human beings are not rational enough to make calculated decisions about the costs and benefits of engaging in crime--therefore, they a priori draw the conclusion that criminal activity cannot be altered by incentives. However, scientific research should not be driven by personal beliefs. Whether economic conditions matter, or deterrence measures--such as police, arrests, prison deaths, executions, and commutations--provide signals to people is an empirical question, which should be guided by a solid theoretical framework. …