European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 37–56 | Cite as

The determinants of recidivism among ex-prisoners: a survival analysis on French data



This article explores the main determinants of the hazard of recidivism among ex-prisoners. We use a nationally-representative sample of prisoners released in 1996–1997 in France, drawn from a 5-year follow-up survey run by the French correctional administration. We estimate semi-parametric duration models which deal with violations of the proportional hazards assumption. Our results confirm the importance of gender, age, nationality, employment status and prior convictions on recidivism within 5 years after release from prison. We also find significant differences in hazards of recidivism by type of initial offense, penal status at entry, and type of release (early release under parole, etc.), while controlling for prison fixed effects. Finally, our study casts doubt on the influence of several sociodemographic variables (marital status at entry, education, homelessness) and on the effectiveness of semi-liberté as a way to prevent recidivism.


Economics of crime Recidivism Duration models 

JEL Classification

C41 K42 



The dataset was obtained from the French correctional administration (DAP) and the Ministry of Justice and Freedoms. I am deeply grateful to Annie Kensey from the DAP for her precious help in obtaining the data. I also thank my supervisor Jean-Yves Lesueur for his support and his comments during this research project. All opinions and remaining errors are my own.

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université de LyonLyonFrance
  2. 2.CNRSGATE Lyon Saint-EtienneEcully CedexFrance

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