Greg Mankiw writes,
Cass Sunstein and Justin Wolfers say we don’t really know whether or not capital punishment deters crime.
Maybe so, but it does solve the problem of recidivism.
He links to a news article that refers to an excellent article by Wolfers and Donohue. But I don’t think Mankiw is correct about capital punishment solving recidivism. A key aspect of the death penalty in the U.S. is how rare it is for prisoners to actually be executed. I don’t see how you solve the problem of recidivism by executing on the order of a hundred people a year. And, given that already our best estimate is that a person who is sentenced to death has a two-thirds chance of having that sentence reversed by a higher court, it’s hard for me to believe that the rate of executions can be increased very much.