Research seminar with Giovanni Mastrobuoni
Welcome to our research seminar with Giovanni Mastrobuoni. Mastrobuoni is an Associate Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Essex.
Rehabilitating Rehabilitation: Prison Conditions and Recidivism
We use quasi-random variation in the fraction of time served in the Italian “open-
cell prison” of Bollate to estimate the effect of rehabilitation efforts on recidivism.
We deal with the endogeneity of rehabilitation assignments by focusing on those
sources of variability in the length of exposure to rehabilitation efforts that are
plausibly unrelated to recidivism. Our most stringent test restricts the analysis
to inmates who are displaced to Bollate due to overcrowding in nearby prisons,
controlling for measures of observed (based on a revealed preference argument) and unobserved potential selection.
Spending one more year at the rehabilitating prison (and one less year at an
ordinary one) reduces recidivism by around 10 percentage points. For the group of
displaced inmates, which is shown to be negatively selected, the effects of rehabili-
tation efforts on recidivism are larger.
While we find evidence that over time Bollate inmates become more likely to
work outside the prison, more than a single mechanism seems to underlie these