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Are individual preferences always a legitimate basis for evaluating the costs and benefits of public policy?: The case of road traffic law enforcement

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  • Elvik, Rune

Abstract

This paper discusses if it is appropriate to include the benefits that offenders get by violating the law in cost-benefit analyses of police enforcement, in the form of a loss of benefits from violations. The discussion is cast in the context of traffic law violations, a very common type of crime, which is usually not very strongly condemned from a moral point of view. Three options for cost-benefit analysis of traffic police enforcement are compared. The three options differ with respect to the treatment of (a) violator benefits from violations, and (b) outlays for traffic tickets given to violators. The implications of the choice of option are shown by means of four case illustrations, all referring to different types of traffic police enforcement in Norway. It is shown that every type of enforcement becomes less cost-effective when violator benefits are included in cost-benefit analyses. The legitimacy of including violator benefits as a benefit to society is discussed. It is concluded that, as far as traffic violations are concerned, benefits obtained by committing violations of the law cannot be treated as a legitimate societal benefit.

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  • Elvik, Rune, 2006. "Are individual preferences always a legitimate basis for evaluating the costs and benefits of public policy?: The case of road traffic law enforcement," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 379-385, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:13:y:2006:i:5:p:379-385
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mogens Fosgerau, 2005. "Speed and Income," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, University of Bath, vol. 39(2), pages 225-240, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Castillo-Manzano, José I. & Castro-Nuño, Mercedes & Fageda, Xavier, 2015. "Are traffic violators criminals? Searching for answers in the experiences of European countries," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 86-94.
    2. Veisten, Knut & Stefan, Christian & Winkelbauer, Martin, 2013. "Standing in cost-benefit analysis of road safety measures: A case of speed enforcement vs. speed change," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 269-274.

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