Social Welfare and the Benefits to Crime
AbstractThere exists a large literature on the optimal deterrence of crime. Within the literature, however, there exists a controversy over what the appropriate criterion to determine optimality should be. While the most popular method is that of maximization of a utilitarian welfare function, another criterion sometimes used is that of cost minimization. The controversy stems from the question of whether the benefits to crime enjoyed by criminals ought to be included in the welfare analysis. This paper argues that the controversy is an artifact of the fact that the standard model restricts a potential criminal's choice to one of committing a crime or doing nothing. We show that when potential criminals are given the additional choice of achieving their ends through voluntary methods that maximizing the sum of utilities is in fact equivalent to minimizing the costs of crime. The model developed also provides explanations for sanctions that increase in one's criminal history and why necessity may be a partial defense.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Waterloo, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1205.
Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision: Jul 2012
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
- D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
- H0 - Public Economics - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-09-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-LAW-2012-09-03 (Law & Economics)
- NEP-MIC-2012-09-03 (Microeconomics)
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