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The Dynamics of Neighbourhood Watch and Norm Enforcement

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  • Steffen Huck
  • Michael Kosfeld

Abstract

We analyze the dynamics of neighbourhood watch programs in a local interaction framework. Agents can watch their neighbours' houses and thus deter burglars from breaking in. At the same time, agents also try to recruit their neighbours to join the neighbourhood watch program. The probability of an agent joining the neighbourhood watch program depends on the success of the program, i.e., whether burglaries continue to occur. We show that the punishment of burglars plays a dual role in this context. On the one hand, punishment deters burglaries if the level of punishment is sufficiently high. On the other hand, it also affects the probability of an agent joining the neighbourhood watch program. In particular, we show that if recruitment is harder when burglaries do not occur, a legal policy attempting to improve deterrence using more severe punishment is suboptimal. In a second part, we extend our model to the study of norm enforcement in public goods dilemmas and show that our results remain valid if agents can punish each other (instead of burglars) for not contributing to the public good. Our paper thus provides a first analysis of the evolution of "altruistic punishment" in large populations with local interaction.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 199.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:199

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Keywords: neighbourhood watch; norm enforcement; cooperation; punishment;

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  1. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2004. "Punishing Free-Riders: How Group Size Affects Mutual Monitoring and the Provision of Public Goods," IZA Discussion Papers 1337, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Michael Kosfeld, 2002. "Stochastic strategy adjustment in coordination games," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 321-339.
  3. Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "The Demand for Punishment," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0243, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Calculating Tragedy: Assessing the Costs of Terrorism," CESifo Working Paper Series 1341, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Remenik, Daniel, 2009. "Limit theorems for individual-based models in economics and finance," Stochastic Processes and their Applications, Elsevier, vol. 119(8), pages 2401-2435, August.
  3. Yamamura, Eiji, 2010. "Effects of Female Labor Participation and Marital Status on Smoking Behavior in Japan," MPRA Paper 21789, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Yamamura, Eiji, 2010. "The effects of the social norm on cigarette consumption: evidence from Japan using panel data," MPRA Paper 21813, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Yamamura, Eiji, 2009. "Formal and informal deterrents of crime in Japan: Roles of police and social capital revisited," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 611-621, August.
  6. Akçomak, İ. Semih & ter Weel, Bas, 2012. "The impact of social capital on crime: Evidence from the Netherlands," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 323-340.
  7. Josef Falkinger, 2004. "Noncooperative Support of Public Norm Enforcement in Large Societies," CESifo Working Paper Series 1368, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Yamamura, Eiji, 2011. "Comparison of the effects of homeownership by individuals and their neighbors on social capital formation: Evidence from Japanese General Social Surveys," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 637-644.
  9. Ferrer, Rosa, 2010. "Breaking the law when others do: A model of law enforcement with neighborhood externalities," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 163-180, February.
  10. Yamamura, Eiji, 2011. "Effects of female labor participation on smoking behavior in Japan: Selection model approach," MPRA Paper 28698, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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