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What is a Gang and Why Does the Law Care?

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The economic theory of optimal punishments states that the expected penalty for a crime ought to be equal (or at least proportional) to the social harm caused by the act. The Criminal Codes in both Canada and the United States allow for criminals to be penalized to a greater degree if they are a member of a gang. According to the economic theory, this would be optimal if either: 1) the social harm from a criminal act is greater for a gang member than for an independent criminal, or 2) the probability of conviction is lower for a gang member. We examine the extent to which both of these possibilities are true and use the findings to develop a (perhaps improved) definition of a gang. Classification-JEL K14, K42

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File URL: http://www.sfu.ca/econ-research/RePEc/sfu/sfudps/dp08-04.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University in its series Discussion Papers with number dp08-04.

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Length: 22
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sfu:sfudps:dp08-04

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Postal: Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
Phone: (778)782-3508
Fax: (778)782-5944
Web page: http://www.sfu.ca/economics.html
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Postal: Working Paper Coordinator, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
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Web: http://www.sfu.ca/economics/research/publications.html

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Keywords: Crime; Criminal Organization; Enforcement;

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  1. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, 06.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, 09.
  3. Ruttan, Vernon W., 2006. "Is War Necessary for Economic Growth? Military Procurement and Technology Development," Staff Papers 13534, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  4. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  5. Ruttan, Vernon W., 2006. "Is War Necessary for Economic Growth?: Military Procurement and Technology Development," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195188042.
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