NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by John Pepper

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Working Papers

September 2011Deterrence and the Death Penalty: Partial Identification Analysis Using Repeated Cross Sections
with Charles F. Manski: w17455
Researchers have long used repeated cross sectional observations of homicide rates and sanctions to examine the deterrent effect of the adoption and implementation of death penalty statutes. The empirical literature, however, has failed to achieve consensus. A fundamental problem is that the outcomes of counterfactual policies are not observable. Hence, the data alone cannot identify the deterrent effect of capital punishment. How then should research proceed? It is tempting to impose assumptions strong enough to yield a definitive finding, but strong assumptions may be inaccurate and yield flawed conclusions. Instead, we study the identifying power of relatively weak assumptions restricting variation in treatment response across places and time. The results are findings of partial i...

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