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Prosecution Associations in Industrial Revolution England: Private Providers of Public Goods?

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  • M Koyama

Abstract

In early 19th century England there was no professional police force and most prosecutions were private. This paper examines how associations for the prosecution of felons arose to internalise the positive externalities produced by private prosecutions. Drawing upon new historical evidence, it examines how the internal governance and incentive structures of prosecution associations enabled them to provide public goods. Consistent with Demsetz (1970), prosecution associations were economic clubs that bundled the private good of insurance with the public good of deterrence. Associations used local newspapers to advertise rewards and attract new members. Price discrimination was employed in order to elicit contributions from individuals with di erent security demands. Selective incentives helped overcome to free-rider problems between members.

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Paper provided by CHERRY, c/o Department of Economics, University of York in its series Centre for Historical Economics and Related Research at York (CHERRY) Discussion Papers with number 11/01.

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Date of creation: May 2011
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Handle: RePEc:yor:cherry:11/01

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Keywords: public goods ; private prosecutions ; insurance selective incentives;

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  1. Klein, Daniel B, 1990. "The Voluntary Provision of Public Goods? The Turnpike Companies of Early America," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(4), pages 788-812, October.
  2. Ekelund, Robert B. & Dorton, Cheryl, 2003. "Criminal justice institutions as a common pool: the 19th century analysis of Edwin Chadwick," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 271-294, March.
  3. Allen, Robert C., 2009. "Engels' pause: Technical change, capital accumulation, and inequality in the british industrial revolution," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 418-435, October.
  4. Benson, Bruce L, 1994. "Are Public Goods Really Common Pools? Considerations of the Evolution of Policing and Highways in England," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 32(2), pages 249-71, April.
  5. Peter Leeson, 2007. "Efficient anarchy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 41-53, January.
  6. Douglas W. Allen & Yoram Barzel, 2011. "The Evolution of Criminal Law and Police during the Pre-modern Era," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(3), pages 540-567.
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  1. Guest Blogger: Mark Koyama
    by Alex Tabarrok in Marginal Revolution on 2012-06-15 15:33:20
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Cited by:
  1. Koyama, Mark, 2012. "The Law and Economics of Private Prosecutions in Industrial Revolution England," MPRA Paper 40500, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Mark Koyama, 2014. "The law & economics of private prosecutions in industrial revolution England," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(1), pages 277-298, April.

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