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Property Rights, Theft, and Efficiency: The Biblical Waiver of Fines in the Case of Confessed Theft

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  • Eliakim Katz
  • Jacob Rosenberg

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    (Department of Economics, Bar Ilan University)

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    Abstract

    In this paper we show that costs associated with infractions of property rights, such as theft, can be reduced by imposing lower penal-ties on individuals who admit to such infractions and make restitution. We find that the socially optimal penalty on a confessed thief may be zero (complete amnesty) or even negative – a person may be given a reward for confessing a theft. The benefits of amnesties were apparently recognized in ancient times and they constitute part of Biblical Law. Moreover, such amnesties have also been informally incorporated into modern legal systems, wherein leniency (a form of partial amnesty) is generally shown to individuals who confess their infractions.

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    File URL: http://www.biu.ac.il/soc/ec/wp/18-01/18-01.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University in its series Working Papers with number 2001-18.

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    Date of creation: Nov 2001
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    Handle: RePEc:biu:wpaper:2001-18

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    Postal: Faculty of Social Sciences, Bar Ilan University 52900 Ramat-Gan
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    Web page: http://econ.biu.ac.il
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    1. Carla Marchese & Alberto Cassone, 2000. "Tax Amnesty as Price-Discriminating Behavior by a Monopolistic Government," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 21-32, January.
    2. Innes, Robert, 1999. "Remediation and self-reporting in optimal law enforcement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 379-393, June.
    3. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 1991. "Optimal Law Enforcement with Self-Reporting of Behavior," NBER Working Papers 3822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Malik, Arun S. & Schwab, Robert M., 1991. "The economics of tax amnesties," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 29-49, October.
    5. Innes, Robert, 2000. "Self-Reporting in Optimal Law Enforcement When Violators Have Heterogeneous Probabilities of Apprehension," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 287-300, January.
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