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An experimental test of the deterrence hypothesis

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  • Hörisch, Hannah
  • Strassmair, Christina

Abstract

Crime 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 Info

Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 2139.

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Date of creation: 26 Feb 2008
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Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:2139

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Keywords: deterrence; law and economics; incentives; crowding out; experiment;

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Cited by:
  1. Antonio FILIPPIN & Paolo CROSETTO, 2014. "A Reconsideration of Gender Differences in Risk Attitudes," Departmental Working Papers 2014-01, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  2. Sebastian Kube & Christian Traxler, 2010. "The Interaction of Legal and Social Norm Enforcement," CESifo Working Paper Series 3091, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Friehe, Tim & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah, 2014. "The Individual and Joint Performance of Economic Preferences, Personality, and Self-Control in Predicting Criminal Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 7894, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Matteo Rizzolli & Luca Stanca, 2009. "Judicial Errors and Crime Deterrence: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 170, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2009.
  5. Menusch Khadjavi, 2014. "Deterrence Works for Criminals," Kiel Working Papers 1938, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  6. Friehe, Tim & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah, 2014. "Crime and Self-Control Revisited: Disentangling the Effect of Self-Control on Risk and Social Preferences," IZA Discussion Papers 8109, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Pouliakas, Konstantinos, 2008. "Pay enough, don’t pay too much or don’t pay at all? An empirical study of the non-monotonic impact of incentives on job satisfaction," MPRA Paper 10031, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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