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The Becker Paradox and Type I vs. Type II Errors in the Economics of Crime

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  • Persson, Mats

    ()
    (Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University)

  • Siven, Claes-Henric

    ()
    (Department of Economics)

Abstract

Two real-world observations are not easily replicated in models of crime. First, although capital punishment is optimal in Becker’s (1968) model, it is rarely observed in the real world. Second, criminal procedure and the evaluation of evidence vary across societies and historical periods, the standard of proof being sometimes very high and sometimes quite low. In this paper, we develop a general equilibrium model of judicial procedure allowing for innocent persons being convicted. We show that the median voter theorem applies to this model, making judicial procedure endogenous. So formulated, the model can replicate both empirical observations.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies in its series Seminar Papers with number 741.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jan 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iiessp:0741

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Keywords: Criminal law; Judicial error; Burden of proof;

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  1. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini , Guido, 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Seminar Papers 630, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  2. James Andreoni, 1991. "Reasonable Doubt and the Optimal Magnitude of Fines: Should the Penalty Fit the Crime?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(3), pages 385-395, Autumn.
  3. Kenneth Burdett & Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2002. "Crime, Inequality, and Unemployment, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 03-029, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Sep 2003.
  4. Sah, Raaj K, 1991. "Social Osmosis and Patterns of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1272-95, December.
  5. Png, I. P. L., 1986. "Optimal subsidies and damages in the presence of judicial error," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 101-105, June.
  6. Harris, John R, 1970. "On the Economics of Law and Order," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 165-74, Jan.-Feb..
  7. Persson, Mats & Siven, Claes-Henric, 2001. "Incentive and Incarceration Effects in a General Equilibrium Model of Crime," Seminar Papers 696, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  8. Jesper Roine, 2006. "The political economics of not paying taxes," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 126(1), pages 107-134, January.
  9. David Friedman, 1999. "Why Not Hang Them All: The Virtues of Inefficient Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S259-S269, December.
  10. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 1994. "Accuracy in the Determination of Liability," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 1-15, April.
  11. Nalebuff, Barry & Scharfstein, David, 1987. "Testing in Models of Asymmetric Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2), pages 265-77, April.
  12. Stigler, George J, 1970. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(3), pages 526-36, May-June.
  13. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1993. "Why Is Rent-Seeking So Costly to Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 409-14, May.
  14. Chien-Chieh Huang & Derek Laing & Ping Wang, 2004. "Crime And Poverty: A Search-Theoretic Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 909-938, 08.
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