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The Impact of (direct) Democracy on the allocation of goods and resources for crime prevention and crime prosecution

abstract This project aims at investigating whether there is an impact of political institutions on society which goes beyond the economic sphere. In particular, it shall be analyzed whether there is an influence of democratic structures and popular rights on the justice and police system, that is on crime, on sentencing behavior of courts, and on legal stipulations. The scope of this analysis shall be both national using US state data and international using an international data set. The research method is empirical, i.e. econometric tools shall be applied.

There are two hypotheses linked to this research question:
First (1), it is conjectured that caused by the bounded rationality of the median voter and her influence on the political decision-making process, stronger popular rights exert a partial crime lowering impact on property crime but a crime increasing for crime against persons. This hypothesis is developed linking the existing research on the median voter theorem with recent findings in the fields economic psychology/behavioral economics. Second (2), it is suggested that stronger popular rights are also linked to a harsher punishment of offenders of law, ceteris paribus. This hypothesis is a consequence of an assumed 'implicit contract' between the government and its citizens, which was originally developed by social psychologists and applied in the tax evasion literature.

As regards previous literature, there are only very few, mostly international studies on the impact of democracy on crime rate. For the Swiss case and what direct democracy is concerned, there seem to exist only two studies by the applicant. They empirically test the hypotheses described above using Swiss data and find the hypotheses supported by the evidence. The data used are a synthetic panel of cantonal crime rates in one case (FISCHER 2005), and a dataset of 40 000 first-time convicts of drunk-driving in the second case (FISCHER 2005a).
   
keywords Democracy, Justice System, Crime, Bounded Rationality, Implicit Contract
   
partner Prof. Tim Besley, LSE
Prof. Francesco Parisi, GMU
type fundamental research project
status scheduled
start of project 2006
end of project 2007
additional informations justina.fischer@unisg.ch
topics Direct democracy and Crime, direct democracy and sentencing behavior, using US data.
methods econometrics
contact Justina Fischer