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Detection Avoidance and Deterrence: Some Paradoxical Arithmetic

  • ERIC LANGLAIS

This paper extends Malik's analysis to the case where criminals' avoidance efforts and public expenditures in the detection of criminals are strategic complements in the aggregate technology of control of illegal behaviors. In this set up, we show that whenever criminals' avoidance efforts are more sensitive to the frequency than to the severity of sanctions, it is always socially efficient to set the fine at the maximal possible level. However, several paradoxical consequences occur: there may exist overdeterrence at optimum; more repressive policies lead to fewer arrests of offenders while more crimes may be committed; at the same time, the society may be closer to the first best number of crimes. Copyright � 2008 Blackwell Publishing, Inc..

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File URL: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-9779.2008.00367.x
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Article provided by Association for Public Economic Theory in its journal Journal of Public Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 10 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (06)
Pages: 371-382

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:10:y:2008:i:3:p:371-382
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  1. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1999. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 6993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Nalebuff, Barry & Scharfstein, David, 1987. "Testing in Models of Asymmetric Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2), pages 265-77, April.
  3. Neilson, William S. & Winter, Harold, 1997. "On criminals' risk attitudes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 97-102, August.
  4. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye & Kaplow, Louis, 1993. "Optimal sanctions and differences in individuals' likelihood of avoiding detection," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 217-224, June.
  5. Block, Michael K & Gerety, Vernon E, 1995. "Some Experimental Evidence on Differences between Student and Prisoner Reactions to Monetary Penalties and Risk," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 123-38, January.
  6. Grogger, Jeffrey, 1991. "Certainty vs. Severity of Punishment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 297-309, April.
  7. Neilson, William S, 1998. "Optimal Punishment Schemes with State-Dependent Preferences," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(2), pages 266-71, April.
  8. Lewin, Jeff L. & Trumbull, William N., 1990. "The social value of crime?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 271-284, December.
  9. Garoupa, Nuno, 2001. "Optimal magnitude and probability of fines," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(9), pages 1765-1771, October.
  10. Garoupa, Nuno, 1997. " The Theory of Optimal Law Enforcement," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 267-95, September.
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