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Prisons, recidivism and the age–crime profile

Journal article
Authors Anna Bindler
Randi Hjalmarsson
Published in Economics Letters
Volume 152
Issue March 2017
Pages 46-49
ISSN 0165-1765
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Economics
Pages 46-49
Language en
Keywords Age–crime profile; Industrial revolution; Prison; Punishment; Recidivism
Subject categories Law, Economics and Business


This paper provides a descriptive analysis of the economic and non-economic channels that led to a U-shaped trend in the average age of male convicts in 19th century London using detailed data from the Old Bailey central criminal court. In addition to discussing industrialization and changing attitudes towards juveniles as potential mechanisms underlying the initial decrease and subsequent increase in criminal age, we put forth a new explanation of the latter. Did the abolition of capital punishment and penal transportation, which led to the rise of the modern day prison system and the emergence of recidivism, lead to a mechanical increase in the average age of criminals?

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