New Economics Papers
on Law and Economics
Issue of 2012‒04‒10
one paper chosen by
Jeong-Joon Lee, Towson University

  1. Rational Suicides: Evidence from Changes in Inmates' Expected Sentence Length By Nadia Campaniello; Theodoros Diasakos; Giovanni Mastrobuoni

  1. By: Nadia Campaniello; Theodoros Diasakos; Giovanni Mastrobuoni
    Abstract: Are suicides rational? At least since the 70's economists have been trying to shed light on this question by studying whether suicide rates are related to contemporaneous economic 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 their date of release, and find that suicide rates tend to be significantly lower when pardons are proposed in congress. This suggests that, amongst inmates in Italian prisons, the average decision to commit suicide has a rational component.
    Keywords: Suicides, Rationality, Pardons, Amnesty, Prison Conditions
    JEL: K40 K42 H11
    Date: 2012

This issue is ©2012 by Jeong-Joon Lee. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.