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Optimal Law Enforcement with Self-Reporting of Behavior

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  • Louis Kaplow
  • Steven Shavell

Abstract

Self-reporting -- the reporting by parties of their own behavior to an enforcement authority -- is a commonly observed aspect of law enforcement, as in the context of environmental and safety regulation. We add self-reporting to the model of the control of harmful externalities through probabilistic law enforcement. Optimal self-reporting schemes are characterized and are shown to offer two advantages over schemes without self-reporting: enforcement resources are saved because individuals who are led to report harmful acts need not be identified; risk is reduced because individuals bear certain sanctions when they report their behavior, rather than face uncertain sanctions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3822.

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Date of creation: Aug 1991
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Publication status: published as Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 102, no. 3, pp. 583-606, (June 1994).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3822

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  1. Reinganum, Jennifer F. & Wilde, Louis L., 1985. "Income tax compliance in a principal-agent framework," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 1-18, February.
  2. Polinsky, Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1979. "The Optimal Tradeoff between the Probability and Magnitude of Fines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(5), pages 880-91, December.
  3. 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.
  4. Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1987. "Audit Classes and Tax Enforcement Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 229-33, May.
  5. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  6. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, Ivan, 1989. "Optimal Auditing, Insurance, and Redistribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 399-415, May.
  7. Ronald A. Dye, 1986. "Optimal Monitoring Policies in Agencies," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 339-350, Autumn.
  8. Townsend, Robert M., 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
  9. Border, Kim C & Sobel, Joel, 1987. "Samurai Accountant: A Theory of Auditing and Plunder," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 525-40, October.
  10. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, I P L, 1990. "Enforcement Costs and the Optimal Progressivity of Income Taxes," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 410-31, Fall.
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