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Can political participation prevent crime? Results from a field experiment about citizenship, participation, and criminality

Gerber, Alan S., Huber, Gregory A., Biggers, Daniel R. and Hendry, David J. (2017) Can political participation prevent crime? Results from a field experiment about citizenship, participation, and criminality. Political Behavior, 39 (4). pp. 909-934. ISSN 0190-9320

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11109-016-9385-1

Abstract

Democratic theory and prior empirical work support the view that political participation, by promoting social integration and pro-social attitudes, reduces one’s propensity for anti-social behavior, such as committing a crime. Previous investigations examine observational data, which are vulnerable to bias if omitted factors affect both propensity to participate and risk of criminality or their reports.A field experiment encouraging 552,525 subjects aged 18-20 to register and vote confirms previous observational findings of the negative association between participation and subsequent criminality. However, comparing randomly formed treatment and control groups reveals that the intervention increased participation but did not reduce subsequent criminality. Our results suggest that while participation is correlated with criminality, it exerts no causal effect on subsequent criminal behavior.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/journal/11109
Additional Information: © 2017 Springer Science+Business Media New York
Divisions: Methodology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Methodology
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2017 14:49
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2019 20:57
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/85003

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