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Deterrence and avoidance

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  • Nussim, Jacob
  • Tabbach, Avraham D.

Abstract

This paper explores the effects of public enforcement, in general, and punishment, in particular, on crime levels if offenders can engage in avoidance activities. Avoidance reduces the probability or magnitude of punishment. In general, offenders can reduce their expected punishment either by substituting legal activities for criminal activities (the deterrence effect) or by increasing avoidance activities. This paper shows that increasing the direct costs of crime - by either increasing punishment or enforcement efforts - does not necessarily deter criminal activity and may actually trigger increased crime if avoidance is possible. Furthermore, this paper shows that increasing the opportunity costs of crime (e.g. by subsidizing legal alternatives or through educational and vocational programs) reduces both crime and avoidance and thus, in this respect, is advantageous. The conditions for these outcomes are identified, the economic mechanisms are explained, and an underlying intuitive approach for these results is proposed.

Suggested Citation

  • Nussim, Jacob & Tabbach, Avraham D., 2009. "Deterrence and avoidance," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 314-323, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:29:y:2009:i:4:p:314-323
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Tim Friehe & Verena Utikal, 2015. "Intentions Undercover - Hiding Intentions is Considered Unfair," CESifo Working Paper Series 5218, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Uri Weiss, 2015. "The Robber Wants To Be Punished," Discussion Paper Series dp685, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
    3. Dechenaux, Emmanuel & Samuel, Andrew, 2014. "Announced vs. surprise inspections with tipping-off," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 167-183.

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