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Are "Gangstas" Peacocks? The Handicap Principle and Illicit Markets

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  • Andrew Mell
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    Abstract

    Criminals who wear gang colors are acting in a surprisingly brazen way which must increase the probability of being caught and punished by the police.� In our model this brazen behavior is a solution to an enforcement problem.� The central idea is that less able criminals see lower gains from continued participation in crime because they will be caught and punished more often.� Lower future gains imply that reputational concerns will be less effective at enforcing honesty.� Only dealing with brazen criminals will become a good way to avoid dealing with incompetent criminals, because they cannot afford to mimic the brazen behavior.� The principle is similar to the selection for a handicap in evolutionary biology.

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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper558.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 558.

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    Date of creation: 01 Jul 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:558

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    Related research

    Keywords: Illegal behaviour and the enforcement of law; Information; Uncertainty;

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    1. Okuno-Fujiwara Masahiro & Postlewaite Andrew, 1995. "Social Norms and Random Matching Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 79-109, April.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. An Economic Analysis of Gang Colors
      by Christopher Shea in Ideas Market on 2011-08-02 17:09:22
    2. The Economics of Gang Colors
      by Josh Wright in Truth on the Market on 2011-08-04 02:31:21

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