An experimental test of the deterrence hypothesis
AbstractCrime has to be punished, but does punishment reduce crime? We conduct a neutrally framed laboratory experiment to test the deterrence hypothesis, namely that crime is weakly decreasing in deterrent incentives, i.e. severity and probability of punishment. In our experiment, subjects can steal from another participant's payoff. Deterrent incentives vary across and within sessions. The across subject analysis clearly rejects the deterrence hypothesis: except for very high levels of incentives, subjects steal more the stronger the incentives. We observe two types of subjects: selfish subjects who act according to the deterrence hypothesis and fair-minded subjects for whom deterrent incentives backfire.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 2139.
Date of creation: 26 Feb 2008
Date of revision:
deterrence; law and economics; incentives; crowding out; experiment;
Other versions of this item:
- Hörisch, Hannah & Strassmair, Christina, 2008. "An experimental test of the deterrence hypothesis," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 229, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
- C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
- D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-03-08 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2008-03-08 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2008-03-08 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-LAW-2008-03-08 (Law & Economics)
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