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BE Seminar

Rehabilitation and social behavior: Experiments in prison


Nikos Georgantzis
Burgundy School of Wine & Spirits Business


Despite the economic and social significance of crime reduction and criminals’ rehabilitation, research evaluating the effects of incarceration on behavior is surprisingly scarce. We conduct an experiment with 105 prison inmates and complement it with administrative data in order to explore several aspects of their social behavior. We first perform a comprehensive analysis of behavior in three economic games, finding evidence of discrimination against a sample from outside prison. Regarding the effect of prison sentences on rehabilitation, our regression analysis reveals that inmates generally become less pro-social the longer they remain incarcerated. Finally, we introduce and evaluate a priming intervention that asks inmates to reflect on their time spent in prison. This intervention has a very sizeable and significant impact, increasing pro-sociality towards the out-of-prison sample. Hence, a simple, low-cost intervention of this sort can have desirable effects in promoting rehabilitation and integration into social and economic life after release.

Co-authors :  Loukas Balafoutas (Department of Public Finance, University of Innsbruck), Aurora García-Gallego (LEE & Department of Economics, University Jaume I), Tarek Jaber-Lopez (Department of Public Finance, University of Innsbruck), Evangelos Mitrokostas (Department of Economics and Finance, University of Portsmouth)

Practical information


Université Montpellier - Faculté d'économie
Avenue Raymond Dugrand 34960 Montpellier

Dates & time

Mar 07, 2019


Marc Willinger
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