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Preventing Crime Waves

Author

Listed:
  • Philip Bond
  • Kathleen Hagerty

Abstract

We study the design of enforcement mechanisms when enforcement resources are chosen ex ante and are inelastic ex post. Multiple equilibria arise naturally. We identify a new answer to the old question of why non-maximal penalties are used to punish moderate actions: "marginal" penalties are much more attractive in the Pareto inferior crime wave equilibrium. Specifically, although marginal penalties have both costs and benefits, the net benefit is strictly positive in the crime wave equilibrium. In contrast, marginal penalties frequently have a net cost in the noncrime wave equilibrium. We also show that increasing enforcement resources may worsen crime. (JEL D82, K42)

Suggested Citation

  • Philip Bond & Kathleen Hagerty, 2010. "Preventing Crime Waves," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 138-159, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:2:y:2010:i:3:p:138-59
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.2.3.138
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/mic.2.3.138
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bar-Gill, Oren & Harel, Alon, 2001. "Crime Rates and Expected Sanctions: The Economics of Deterrence Revisited," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 485-501, Part I Ju.
    2. Wilde, Louis L., 1992. "Criminal choice, nonmonetary sanctions and marginal deterrence: A normative analysis," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 333-344, September.
    3. George J. Stigler, 1974. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 55-67 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Fender, John, 1999. "A general equilibrium model of crime and punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 437-453, July.
    5. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, I P L, 1994. "Marginal Deterrence in Enforcement of Law," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 1039-1066, October.
    6. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Tim Friehe & Thomas J. Miceli, 2016. "Law Enforcement in a Federal System: On the Strategic Choice of Sanction Levels," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 73-103.
    2. Friehe, Tim & Miceli, Thomas J., 2015. "Focusing law enforcement when offenders can choose location," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 105-112.
    3. Baumann, Florian & Friehe, Tim, 2015. "Status concerns as a motive for crime?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 46-55.
    4. Carrasco, Vinicius & Salgado, Pablo, 2014. "Coordinated strategic defaults and financial fragility in a costly state verification model," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 129-139.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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