NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Juvenile Crime and Punishment

Steven D. Levitt

NBER Working Paper No. 6191
Issued in September 1997
NBER Program(s):   LE   PE

Over the last two decades the punitiveness of the juvenile justice system has declined" substantially relative to the adult courts. During that same time period juvenile violent crime" rates have grown almost twice as quickly as adult crime rates. This paper examines the degree to" which those two empirical observations are related, finding that changes in relative punishments" can account for 60 percent of the differential growth rates in juvenile and adult violent crime" between 1978 and 1993. Juvenile offenders appear to be at least as responsive to criminal" sanctions as adults. Moreover, sharp changes in criminal involvement with the transition from" the juvenile to the adult court suggest that deterrence, rather than simply incapacitation important role. There does not, however, appear to be a strong relationship between the" punitiveness of the juvenile justice system that a cohort faces and the extent of criminal" involvement for that cohort later in life.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w6191

Published: Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 106, no. 6 (December 1998): 1156-1185.

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