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Young Criminals Don't Respond to Incentives?

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Tags Legal SystemPhilosophy and Methodology

This Slate article discusses a new econometric study that apparently shows juvenile criminals don't lower their criminal behavior when they become 18 and can receive stiffer penalties.

On the one hand, as a libertarian (not to mention a pacifist) I love stuff like this: The State fails in its use of stolen tax dollars and barbaric punishments!

On the other hand, as an economist this shocks me. Even though I believe crime rates would drop if the State got out of the prison market altogether, even so I would have predicted that increasing the penalties on a particular crime, holding all else equal, would lower its occurence.

Any thoughts?

Robert P. Murphy is a Senior Fellow with the Mises Institute and Research Assistant Professor with the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University. He is the author of many books including Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action (Independent Institute, 2015) which is a modern distillation of the essentials of Mises's thought for the layperson. Murphy is co-host, with Tom Woods, of the popular podcast Contra Krugman, which is a weekly refutation of Paul Krugman's New York Times column.

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