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Persistence in Incarcerations: Global Comparative Evidence

Asongu, Simplice (2017): Persistence in Incarcerations: Global Comparative Evidence. Forthcoming in: Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice

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Purpose - The purpose of this study is to assess how incarcerations persist across the world. The focus is on 163 countries for the period 2010 to 2015.

Design/methodology/approach - The empirical evidence is based on Generalised Method of Moments. In order to increase room for policy implications, the dataset is decomposed into sub-samples based on income levels, religious domination, openness to the sea, regional proximity and legal origins.

Findings - The following main findings are established. Incarcerations are more persistent in low income, Christian-protestant and Latin American countries while comparative evidence is not feasible on the basis of landlockedness and legal origins owing to unfavorable post-estimation diagnostic tests. Justifications for the comparative advantages and relevance of findings to theory-building in public economics are discussed.

Practical implications - First, income levels matter in the persistence of incarcerations because low income nations vis-à-vis their high income counterparts, have less financial resources with which to prevent and deal with events like terrorism, political instability and violence that lead to incarcerations. Second, the intuition for religious domination builds on the fact that liberal societies can be more associated with incarcerations compared to conservative societies. The main theoretical contribution of this study to the literature is that we have built on empirical validity to provide theoretical justification as to why categorizing countries on the basis of selected fundamental characteristics determine cross-country variations in incarcerations. Such evidence is important for theory-building in public economics.

Originality/value- It is important for policy makers to understand the persistence of incarcerations across nations because resources could be allocated to regions and countries, contingent on the relative importance of future incarceration tendencies.

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