Debtors’ prisons in America: An economic analysis
Debtors’ prisons have been commonplace throughout history, including in the United States. While imprisonment for debt no doubt elicited some repayment by benefactors of the debtor, we argue that its primary function was to deter default in the first place by giving borrowers an incentive to disclose hidden assets. Because of its cost, however, imprisonment was destined to be replaced by more efficient ways of preventing borrowers from sheltering assets. Empirical analysis of state laws banning imprisonment for debt provides some support for this argument. In particular, the results suggest that states in which the publishing industry developed sooner (thus facilitating the flow of information) were more likely to enact early bans on imprisonment for debt.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Rea, Samuel A, Jr, 1984. "Arm-breaking, Consumer Credit and Personal Bankruptcy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 22(2), pages 188-208, April.
- Gary S. Becker, 1968.
"Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
- Levitt, Steven D., 1997. "Incentive compatibility constraints as an explanation for the use of prison sentences instead of fines," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 179-192, June.
- Townsend, Robert M., 1979.
"Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification,"
Journal of Economic Theory,
Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
- Robert M. Townsend, 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Staff Report 45, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Bester, Helmut, 1987. "The role of collateral in credit markets with imperfect information," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 887-899, June.
- Patrick Bolton & Mathias Dewatripont, 2005.
MIT Press Books,
The MIT Press,
edition 1, volume 1, number 0262025760, June.
- A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1982.
"The Optimal Use of Fines and Imprisonment,"
NBER Working Papers
0932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- repec:oup:restud:v:52:y:1985:i:4:p:647-63 is not listed on IDEAS
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:84:y:2012:i:1:p:216-228. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.