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Rationalizable Suicides: Evidence from Changes in Inmates’ Expected Length of Sentence

Campaniello, N and Diasakos, TM and Mastrobuoni, G (2017) 'Rationalizable Suicides: Evidence from Changes in Inmates’ Expected Length of Sentence.' Journal of the European Economic Association, 15 (2). 388 - 428. ISSN 1542-4766

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Abstract

Is there a rational component in the decision to commit suicide? Economists have been trying to shed light on this question by studying whether suicide rates are related to contemporaneous socioeconomic conditions. This paper goes one step further: we test whether suicides are linked to forward-looking behavior. In Italy, collective sentence reductions (pardons) often lead to massive releases of prisoners. More importantly, they are usually preceded by prolonged parliamentary activity (legislative proposals, discussion, voting, etc.) that inmates seem to follow closely. We use the legislative proposals for collective pardons to measure changes in the inmates’ expectations about the length of their sentences, and find that suicide rates tend to be significantly lower when pardons are proposed in congress. This suggests that, among inmates in Italian prisons, the average decision to commit suicide responds to changes in current expectations about future conditions. At least partially, therefore, the decision seems rationalizable.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Economics, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2017 14:52
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2019 13:59
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/20176

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