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Crime Rates and Expected Sanctions: The Economics of Deterrence Revisited

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  • Bar-Gill, Oren
  • Harel, Alon

Abstract

A higher expected sanction lowers the crime rate. This intuitive cornerstone of deterrence theory has garnered extensive theoretical and empirical research. The present study focuses on the opposite effects--the effects of the crime rate on the expected sanction. It turns out that these effects are versatile and rich in both the direction and the magnitude of their influence on the expected sanction. After analyzing these countereffects of the crime rate on the expected sanction, we present a new model of deterrence that explicitly incorporates the crime rate as one of the determinants of the expected sanction. The adjusted model is then used to study the effects of the crime rate on deterrence and on optimal law enforcement policy. Copyright 2001 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Bar-Gill, Oren & Harel, Alon, 2001. "Crime Rates and Expected Sanctions: The Economics of Deterrence Revisited," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 485-501, Part I Ju.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:30:y:2001:i:2:p:485-501
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    Cited by:

    1. Joseph A. Clougherty & Tomaso Duso & Miyu Lee & Jo Seldeslachts, 2016. "Effective European Antitrust: Does Ec Merger Policy Generate Deterrence?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(4), pages 1884-1903, October.
    2. Antonio Acconcia & Marcello D'Amato & Riccardo Martina, 2003. "Corruption and Tax Evasion with Competitive Bribes," CSEF Working Papers 112, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    3. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 2007. "The Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
    4. Yamamura, Eiji, 2009. "Formal and informal deterrents of crime in Japan: Roles of police and social capital revisited," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 611-621, August.
    5. Weibull, Jörgen & Villa, Edgar, 2005. "Crime, punishment and social norms," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 610, Stockholm School of Economics.
    6. Wang, Shoou-Jiun & Batta, Rajan & Rump, Christopher M., 2005. "Stability of a crime level equilibrium," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 229-244, September.
    7. Robert Dur & Joël Van Der Weele, 2013. "Status-Seeking in Criminal Subcultures and the Double Dividend of Zero-Tolerance," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 15(1), pages 77-93, February.
    8. James E. Alt & David Dreyer Lassen, 2010. "Enforcement and Public Corruption: Evidence from US States," EPRU Working Paper Series 2010-08, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    9. Nathan Berg & Jeong-Yoo Kim, 2015. "Quantity Restrictions with Imperfect Enforcement in an Overused Commons: Permissive Regulation to Reduce Overuse?," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 171(2), pages 308-329, June.
    10. Ferrer, Rosa, 2010. "Breaking the law when others do: A model of law enforcement with neighborhood externalities," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 163-180, February.
    11. Baumann, Florian & Friehe, Tim, 2015. "Status concerns as a motive for crime?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 46-55.
    12. Mungan, Murat C., 2016. "A generalized model for reputational sanctions and the (ir)relevance of the interactions between legal and reputational sanctions," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 86-92.
    13. Jeong-Yoo Kim, 2013. "A note on the non-maximality of the optimal fines when the apprehension probability depends on the offense rate," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 131-138, August.
    14. Yoshinobu Zasu, 2007. "Sanctions by Social Norms and the Law: Substitutes or Complements?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 379-396, June.
    15. Patricia Funk, 2005. "Governmental Action, Social Norms, and Criminal Behavior," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 161(3), pages 522-522, September.
    16. repec:spr:envpol:v:19:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10018-016-0166-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Saridakis George, 2013. "Shop Crime and Deterrence: Evidence on Shoplifting among Young People in the Youth Lifestyle Survey (YLS)," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(2), pages 197-237, September.
    18. Eoin O’Sullivan & Ian O’Donnell, 2003. "Imprisonment and the Crime Rate in Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 34(1), pages 33-64.
    19. Carbonara, Emanuela & Parisi, Francesco & von Wangenheim, Georg, 2012. "Unjust laws and illegal norms," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 285-299.
    20. Philip Bond & Kathleen Hagerty, 2010. "Preventing Crime Waves," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 138-159, August.
    21. van der Weele Joël, 2012. "Beyond the State of Nature: Introducing Social Interactions in the Economic Model of Crime," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(2), pages 401-432, October.
    22. Florian Baumann & Tim Friehe, 2017. "Design standards and technology adoption: welfare effects of increasing environmental fines when the number of firms is endogenous," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 19(2), pages 427-450, April.
    23. Alon Harel & Alon Klement, 2007. "The Economics of Stigma: Why More Detection of Crime May Result in Less Stigmatization," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 355-377, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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