What You Don't See Can't Hurt You: An Economic Analysis of Morality Laws
AbstractThis paper provides an efficiency explanation for regulation of sex, drugs and gambling (the so-called ``morality laws''). The argument is motivated by the observation that the design an enforcement of these laws often promotes discretion by the people engaging in such activities. We propose that morality laws can be best explained by considering the proscribed activities to impose a negative externality on others when the activity is observed. In such a case, efficiency requires discretion by the individual who engages in such activities. When discretion is difficult to regulate directly, the activities can instead be proscribed thereby giving individuals incentive to hide their actions from others. We find conditions for the first-best levels of consumption and hiding to be implementable. In addition, since some level of activity is efficient, this paper provides another environment in which the optimal sanctions are not maximal.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University in its series Discussion Papers with number dp07-05.
Date of creation: May 2007
Date of revision:
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Postal: Working Paper Coordinator, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
Other versions of this item:
- Philip A. Curry & Steeve Mongrain, 2008. "What you don't see can't hurt you: an economic analysis of morality laws," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(2), pages 583-594, May.
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
- K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
- H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-05-19 (All new papers)
- NEP-LAW-2007-05-19 (Law & Economics)
- NEP-REG-2007-05-19 (Regulation)
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.:
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- Jeffrey A. Miron & Jeffrey Zwiebel, 1995. "The Economic Case against Drug Prohibition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 175-192, Fall.
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