Time Discounting and Criminal Behavior

David Akerlund, Bart Golsteyn, Hans Grönqvist, Lena Lindahl*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

One of the most basic predictions of almost any model of crime is that individual time preferences matter. However, empirical evidence on this fundamental property is essentially nonexistent. To our knowledge, this paper provides the first pieces of evidence on the link between time discounting and crime. We use a unique dataset that combines a survey-based measure of time discount rates (at age 13) with detailed longitudinal register data on criminal behavior spanning over 18 y. Our results show that individuals with short time horizons have a significantly higher risk of criminal involvement later in life. The magnitude of the relationship is substantial and corresponds to roughly one-third of the association between intelligence and crime.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6160-6165
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume113
Issue number22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2016

Keywords

  • time discounting
  • intertemporal choice
  • crime
  • GOTTFREDSON
  • IMPATIENCE
  • SELF-CONTROL
  • GENERAL-THEORY
  • CRIME
  • PREFERENCES
  • PUNISHMENT
  • PRESCHOOL DELAY

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