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Crime and punishment in times of pandemics

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  • Roee Sarel

    (University of Hamburg)

Abstract

How should we think about crime deterrence in times of pandemics? The economic analysis of crime tells us that potential offenders will compare the costs and the benefits from crime and from innocence and then choose whichever option is more profitable. We must therefore ask ourselves how this comparison is affected by the outbreak of a pandemic and the policy changes which may accompany it, such as governmental restrictions, social distancing, and responses to economic crises. Using insights from law and economics, this paper investigates how the various components in the cost-benefit analysis of crime might change during a pandemic, focusing on Covid-19 as a test case. Building on classical theoretical models, existing empirical evidence, and behavioral aspects, the analysis reveals that there are many potentially countervailing effects on crime deterrence. The paper thus highlights the need to carefully consider which aspects are applicable given the circumstances of the pandemic, as whether crime deterrence will increase or decrease should depend on the strength of the effects at play.

Suggested Citation

  • Roee Sarel, 2022. "Crime and punishment in times of pandemics," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 54(2), pages 155-186, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:ejlwec:v:54:y:2022:i:2:d:10.1007_s10657-021-09720-7
    DOI: 10.1007/s10657-021-09720-7
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Deterrence; Pandemic; Covid-19; Uncertainty; Crisis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General

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