Speeding, punishment, and recidivism - evidence from a regression discontinuity design

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This paper estimates the effects of temporary driver's license suspensions on driving behavior. A little known rule in the German traffic penalty catalogue maintains that drivers who commit a series of speeding transgressions within 365 days should have their license suspended for one month. My regression discontinuity design exploits the quasi-random assignment of license suspensions caused by the 365-days cut-off and shows that 1-month license suspensions lower the probability of recidivating within a year by 20 percent. This is largely a specific deterrence effect driven by the punishment itself and not by incapacitation, information asymmetries, or the threat of stiffer future penalties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-528
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Law and Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2017


  • crime
  • speeding
  • deterrence
  • regression discontinuity


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