The economics of rights: Does the right to counsel increase crime?

Itai Ater, Yehonatan Givati, Oren Rigbi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We examine the broad consequences of the right to counsel by exploiting a legal reform in Israel that extended the right to publicly provided legal counsel to suspects in arrest proceedings. Using the staggered regional rollout of the reform, we find that the reform reduced arrest duration and the likelihood of arrestees being charged. We also find that the reform reduced the number of arrests made by the police. Lastly, we find that the reform increased crime. These findings indicate that the right to counsel improves suspects' situation, but discourages the police from making arrests, which results in higher crime.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalAmerican Economic Journal: Economic Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the German-Israel Foundation (grant I-2379-118.4/2014), the Israel Science Foundation (grant 8745981), the Sapir Center at Tel Aviv University, and Hebrew University's Center for Empirical Legal Studies of Decision Making and the Law for financial support.


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