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Comparing Apples to Oranges: Differences in Women's and Men's Incarceration and Sentencing Outcomes

Kristin F. Butcher, Kyung H. Park, Anne Morrison Piehl

NBER Working Paper No. 23079
Issued in January 2017
NBER Program(s):Law and Economics, Labor Studies

Using detailed administrative records, we find that, on average, women receive lighter sentences in comparison with men along both extensive and intensive margins. Using parametric and semi-parametric decomposition methods, roughly 30% of the gender differences in incarceration cannot be explained by the observed criminal characteristics of offense and offender. We also find evidence of considerable heterogeneity across judges in their treatment of female and male offenders. There is little evidence, however, that tastes for gender discrimination are driving the mean gender disparity or the variance in treatment between judges.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23079

Published: Kristin F. Butcher & Kyung H. Park & Anne Morrison Piehl, 2017. "Comparing Apples to Oranges: Differences in Women’s and Men’s Incarceration and Sentencing Outcomes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(S1), pages 201-234. citation courtesy of

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