Rehabilitation and social reintegration are – along with retributive justice and deterrence – among the main objectives of modern penal systems. Nevertheless, recidivism rates of inmates are extremely high, and may explain part of the overall increasing rates for crime. The Austrian Bureau of Statistics confirms that, in 2016, 46.2% of prison inmates were reoffenders who had committed a crime before. These figures affirm the need for research into the various factors that determine the way in which prison sentences affect inmates. This project uses a set of controlled economic laboratory experiments where participants have the opportunity to steal from other group members (based on a game developed by Ahn et al., 2016). Our main purpose is to investigate, in such an environment, the effect of excluding others by voting. This kind of endogenous exclusion (also known as ostracism) can be seen as a way of re-creating a stylized prison environment in the economic lab. In addition, we examine the role of inequalities between group members in exclusion decisions. We implement heterogeneity by differentiating between two levels of productivity within groups, thus creating inequalities in income. The idea is to reproduce in the lab qualitative differences in socioeconomic status that are likely to affect exclusion (i.e., imprisonment) in reality. Our results show a significant in-group bias in terms of theft and voting for exclusion, especially from “low productivity” towards “high productivity” subjects. Further, we find a negative effect of exclusion by increasing antisocial behavior after reintegration


Presented by Tarek Taher Jaber-Lopez, University of Innsbruck.

Further information

While here, Tarek Jaber-Lopez will be using room 520A Colin Clark Building. If you would like to meet with him or have lunch or dinner with him please contact Marco Faravelli who will be his host while at The University of Queensland.

About Economic Theory Seminar Series

A seminar series designed specifically for economic theory researchers to network and collaborate. 

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Level 6, Colin Clark building
The University of Queensland
St Lucia campus