Monday, December 26, 2005
For those of you interested in the discussion about whether capital punishment deters murder (here and here), Becker-Posner continue to opine ... though it seems to me from reading their interesting Christmas Day posting (here) that they still have not read the Donohue-Wolfers paper (here). Well, once the paper is published (as soon it will be) in the Stanford Law Review, few lawyer-economists will not have read it.
Just to be clear: The Donohue-Wolfers paper doesn't argue that capital punishment does not deter; rather, it argues that econometricians cannot say, based on the data that is available or is likely to become available, that capital punishment reduces the incidence of murder ... or that it increases the incidence of murder ("the brutalization effect"). According to Donohue-Wolfers, econometricians *can* say that whether capital punishment reduces the incidence of murder or, instead, increases it, the effect is very small.