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Criminal Law and Behavioral Law and Economics: Observations on the Neglected Role of Uncertainty in Deterring Crime

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Author Info

  • Harel, Alon
  • Segal, Uzi

Abstract

Criminal sanctions are usually public, stable and predictable. In contrast, the practices governing the determination of the probability of detection and conviction reinforce uncertainty. We invoke psychological insights to illustrate that criminals prefer a scheme in which the size of the sentence is uncertain while the probability of detection and conviction is certain. Consequently, the choice to increase certainty with respect to the size of the sentence and to decrease certainty with respect to the probability of detection and conviction can be justified on the grounds that such a scheme is disfavored by criminals and consequently has better deterrent effects. Copyright 1999 by Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal American Law and Economics Review.

Volume (Year): 1 (1999)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (Fall)
Pages: 276-312

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Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:1:y:1999:i:1-2:p:276-312

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References

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Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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  1. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1997. "On the Disutility and Discounting of Imprisonment and the Theory of Deterrence," NBER Working Papers 6259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  3. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
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Cited by:
  1. Zhixin Dai & Robin M. Hogarth & Marie Claire Villeval, 2014. "Ambiguity on audits and cooperation in a public goods game," Working Papers halshs-00944500, HAL.
  2. Gregory DeAngelo & Gary Charness, 2012. "Deterrence, expected cost, uncertainty and voting: Experimental evidence," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 73-100, February.
  3. Chiu, W.Henry & Madden, Paul, 2007. "Crime, punishment, and background risks," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 543-555, April.
  4. Zhixin Dai & Robin M. Hogarth & Marie Claire Villeval, 2014. "Ambiguity on audits and cooperation in a public goods game," Working Papers 1403, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  5. Nuno Garoupa, 2003. "Behavioral Economic Analysis of Crime: A Critical Review," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 5-15, January.
  6. Dai, Zhixin & Hogarth, Robin M. & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2014. "Ambiguity on Audits and Cooperation in a Public Goods Game," IZA Discussion Papers 7932, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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