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Do Legal Sanctions Reinforce Social Sanctions? Evidence 19th Century Brittany


  • Nicolas G. Vaillant

    () (UFR de Sciences Economiques et de Gestion (OMI-DEJ), Reims, France)


In a society that stigmatizes, how do judges or jurors judge criminals who possess a high stock of social capital: do they reinforce the effect of social sanctions by pronouncing higher legal sanctions? Do they behave impartially? Or do they attenuate the sentence, in order to produce a constant global deterrent effect? By using data from the 571 sentenced infanticide mothers in Brittany in the 19th century, the aim of this paper is to provide answers to these questions, and more generally to give evidence on the relationship between offender characteristics and sentences. This is implemented in estimated Multinomial Logit equations, which feature the verdicts announced to the infanticide mothers as the dependent variables, and the various personal characteristics of the mothers, the circumstances and objective of the murder, and the ôtechniqueö used to commit crime as the right hand side variables. The results show that jurors, i.e. members of the civil society, tend to reinforce the punitive effect of social sanction.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas G. Vaillant, 2005. "Do Legal Sanctions Reinforce Social Sanctions? Evidence 19th Century Brittany," Homo Oeconomicus, Institute of SocioEconomics, vol. 23, pages 333-346.
  • Handle: RePEc:hom:homoec:v:23:y:2005:p:333-346

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434-434.
    2. Mueller,Dennis C., 2003. "Public Choice III," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521894753, March.
    3. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
    4. Jonathan Levin & Barry Nalebuff, 1995. "An Introduction to Vote-Counting Schemes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 3-26, Winter.
    5. Hillinger, Claude, 2004. "On the Possibility of Democracy and Rational Collective Choice," Discussion Papers in Economics 429, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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