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Deterrent Effect of the Death Penalty: A Cross-country Analysis Using Synthetic Control Method

Student: Egor Feoktistov

Supervisor: Aleksey Y. Oshchepkov

Faculty: Faculty of Economic Sciences

Educational Programme: Economics (Bachelor)

Year of Graduation: 2020

Does the abolition of the death penalty lead to an increase in murder rate? Several country cases of the capital punishment abolition are analyzed using the synthetic control method in our work to answer this question. In this approach the murder rate after the abolition of the death penalty in one country is compared against the murder rate in a highly similar synthetic country constructed of countries continuing to permit its use. This approach has not previously been used in cross-country studies of the capital punishment effects. The analysis does not allow us to draw a uniform conclusion for all countries: there is an increase in the murder rate after the abolition of the death penalty in some countries, whereas in other cases a reduction is observed. At the same time, various robustness tests including placebo tests also do not allow us to identify the most reliable and preferred results. The general conclusion of the work is that the effects of the abolition of the death penalty vary significantly both qualitatively and quantitatively which is consistent with the lack of consensus in the existing literature.

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