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The Economics of Stigma: Why More Detection of Crime May Result in Less Stigmatization

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  • Alon Harel
  • Alon Klement

Abstract

This paper establishes that there may be an inverse relation between the rate of detection and the deterrent effects of stigma. The more people are detected and stigmatized, the less deterrence there may be. This conclusion is based on a search model in which the costs of searching for law-abiding partners increase with the rate of detection. The model distinguishes between willing stigmatizers, who refrain from business or social contacts with someone they believe has committed an offense (whether he is detected or not), and unwilling stigmatizers, whose main concern is not to be associated with the stigmatized yet are indifferent to whether that person has actually committed an offense. The inverse relation between the rate of detection and the deterrent effect of stigma is possible when the percentage of unwilling stigmatizers in the population is sufficiently high.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Legal Studies.

Volume (Year): 36 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (06)
Pages: 355-377

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:36:y:2007:p:355-377

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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Cited by:
  1. Edna Ullmann-Margalit, 2008. ""We the Big Brother" Or The Curious Incident of the Camera in the Kitchen," Discussion Paper Series dp480, The Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  2. Bruno Deffains & Claude Fluet, 2013. "Legal Liability when Individuals Have Moral Concerns," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 930-955, August.
  3. Taylor P. Stevenson & Robert D. Tollison & Dennis Pearson, 2012. "Efficacy of shaming penalties: Evidence from SEC football," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 32(2), pages 1162-1170.
  4. Bruno Deffains & Claude Fluet, 2007. "Legal versus Normative Incentives under Judicial Error," Cahiers de recherche 0718, CIRPEE.
  5. Carbonara, Emanuela & Parisi, Francesco & von Wangenheim, Georg, 2012. "Unjust laws and illegal norms," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 285-299.
  6. Baumann, Florian & Friehe, Tim & Grechenig, Kristoffel, 2011. "A note on the optimality of (even more) incomplete strict liability," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 77-82, June.
  7. Christoph Engel & Bernd Irlenbusch, 2010. "Turning the Lab into Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon. The Effect of Punishment on Offenders and Non-Offenders," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_06, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.

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