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Criminals and risk attitude

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  • Langlais, Eric

Abstract

We show that whatever the representation of criminals' preferences under risk, the assumption according to which they are strongly risk averse individuals is not consistent with the available observations establishing that criminals are more sensitive to shifts in the probability of sanction than to changes in the level of the sanction. We suggest that: 1/ while a weakening of the risk aversion assumption may be useful, the risk seeking assumption may be better suited for criminals; 2/ the relevant assumption regarding criminals' risk attitude may depend on the policy instruments that models of crime deterrence take into account; 3/ additional experiments, including both monetary penalties and non monetary sanctions would be useful in order to learn more about their sensibility to probability, monetary and non monetary sanctions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 1149.

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Date of creation: Jun 2006
Date of revision: 15 Sep 2006
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:1149

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Keywords: Risk aversion; monetary and non monetary sanctions; State Dependent preferences and RDEU models;

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  1. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1982. "The Optimal Use of Fines and Imprisonment," NBER Working Papers 0932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mich´┐Żle D. Cohen, 1995. "Risk-Aversion Concepts in Expected- and Non-Expected-Utility Models," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 20(1), pages 73-91, June.
  3. Jones-Lee, Michael W, 1974. "The Value of Changes in the Probability of Death or Injury," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(4), pages 835-49, July/Aug..
  4. Zivin, Joshua Graff & Just, Richard E. & Zilberman, David, 2005. "Risk Aversion, Liability Rules, and Safety," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 604-623, December.
  5. Chateauneuf, Alain & Cohen, Michele, 1994. "Risk Seeking with Diminishing Marginal Utility in a Non-expected Utility Model," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 77-91, July.
  6. Cook, Philip J & Graham, Daniel A, 1977. "The Demand for Insurance and Protection: The Case of Irreplaceable Commodities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 143-56, February.
  7. Neilson, William S, 1998. "Optimal Punishment Schemes with State-Dependent Preferences," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(2), pages 266-71, April.
  8. Tversky, Amos & Wakker, Peter, 1995. "Risk Attitudes and Decision Weights," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(6), pages 1255-80, November.
  9. Neilson, William S. & Winter, Harold, 1997. "On criminals' risk attitudes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 97-102, August.
  10. 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.
  11. Grogger, Jeffrey, 1991. "Certainty vs. Severity of Punishment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 297-309, April.
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