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.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
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)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
- Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst, 2002.
"Psychological Foundations of Incentives,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
3185, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Fehr, Ernst & Falk, Armin, 2002. "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," IZA Discussion Papers 507, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 2002. "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," CESifo Working Paper Series 714, CESifo Group Munich.
- Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, . "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," IEW - Working Papers 095, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Ernst Fehr, 2003. "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," Microeconomics 0305010, EconWPA.
- Trautmann, Stefan T. & Wakker, Peter P., 2010. "Process fairness and dynamic consistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 109(3), pages 187-189, December.
- Roberto Galbiati & Pietro Vertova, 2005.
"Law and Behaviours in Social Dilemmas: Testing the Effect of Obligations on Cooperation,"
Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena
001, University of Siena.
- Galbiati, R. & Vertova, P., 2005. "Law and Behaviours in Social Dilemmas: Testing the Effect of Obligations on Cooperation," Discussion Paper 2005-56, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
- Uri Gneezy, 2003. "The W effect of incentives," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000315, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
- Jean-Robert Tyran & Lars P. Feld, 2006.
"Achieving Compliance when Legal Sanctions are Non-deterrent,"
Scandinavian Journal of Economics,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(1), pages 135-156, 03.
- Jean-Robert Tyran & Lars P. Feld, 2005. "Achieving Compliance when Legal Sanctions are Non-Deterrent," CREMA Working Paper Series 2005-17, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
- Günther G. Schulze & Björn Frank, 2003.
"Deterrence versus intrinsic motivation: Experimental evidence on the determinants of corruptibility,"
Economics of Governance,
Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 143-160, 08.
- Schulze, Günther G. & Frank, Björn, 2000. "Deterrence versus intrinsic motivation: Experimental evidence on the determinants of corruptility," Discussion Papers, Series 1 303, University of Konstanz, Department of Economics.
- Bjorn Frank & Guenther G. Schulze, 2000. "Deterrence versus Intrinsic Motivation: Experimental Evidence on the Determinants of Corruptibility," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0950, Econometric Society.
- Levitt, Steven D, 1997.
"Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-90, June.
- Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Policeon Crime," NBER Working Papers 4991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Andreoni, J. & Erard, B. & Feinstein, J., 1996.
9610r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
- Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S251-78, October.
- Gneezy, U. & Rustichini, A., 1998.
"Pay Enough - Or Don't Pay at All,"
1998-57, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
- Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000.
"The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law,"
Journal of Economic Literature,
American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 45-76, March.
- Garoupa, Nuno, 1997. " The Theory of Optimal Law Enforcement," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 267-95, September.
- Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2002. ""Crime" in the lab-detecting social interaction," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 859-869, May.
- Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao & Kevin McCabe & Vernon Smith, 2005.
"When punishment fails: Research on sanctions, intentions and non- cooperation,"
- Houser, Daniel & Xiao, Erte & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon, 2008. "When punishment fails: Research on sanctions, intentions and non-cooperation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 509-532, March.
- Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao & Kevin McCabe & Vernon Smith, 2005. "When Punishment Fails: Research on Sanctions, Intentions and Non- Cooperation," Experimental 0502001, EconWPA, revised 18 Feb 2005.
- Gneezy, Uri & Rustichini, Aldo, 2000.
"A Fine is a Price,"
The Journal of Legal Studies,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-17, January.
- Gary E Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 1997. "A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1889, David K. Levine.
- Torgler, Benno, 2002. " Speaking to Theorists and Searching for Facts: Tax Morale and Tax Compliance in Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(5), pages 657-83, December.
- Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
- 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.
- Filippin, A. & Crosetto, P., 2014. "A reconsideration of gender differences in risk attitudes," Working Papers 2014-01, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
- 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.
- Tim Friehe & Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch, 2014.
"The Individual and Joint Performance of Economic Preferences, Personality, and Self-Control in Predicting Criminal Behavior,"
CESifo Working Paper Series
4622, CESifo Group Munich.
- 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).
- Sebastian Kube & Christian Traxler, 2011.
"The Interaction of Legal and Social Norm Enforcement,"
Journal of Public Economic Theory,
Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 13(5), pages 639-660, October.
- Sebastian Kube & Christian Traxler, 2010. "The Interaction of Legal and Social Norm Enforcement," CESifo Working Paper Series 3091, CESifo Group Munich.
- Matteo Rizzolli & Luca Stanca, 2012.
"Judicial Errors and Crime Deterrence: Theory and Experimental Evidence,"
Journal of Law and Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 311 - 338.
- 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.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Alexandra Frank).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.