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Marginal Deterrence in Enforcement of Law

  • Mookherjee, Dilip
  • Png, I P L

The authors characterize optimal enforcement in a setting in which individuals can select among various levels of some activity, all of which are monitored at the same rate but may be prosecuted and punished at varying rates. For less harmful acts, marginal expected penalties ought to fall short of marginal harms caused. Indeed, some range of very minor acts should be legalized. For more harmful acts, whether marginal expected penalties should fall short of or exceed marginal harms depends on the balance between monitoring and prosecution/punishment costs. The authors also explore how the optimal enforcement policy varies with changes in these costs. Copyright 1994 by University of Chicago Press.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/261963
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 102 (1994)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 1039-66

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:102:y:1994:i:5:p:1039-66
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/

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  1. Eric Maskin & John Riley, 1984. "Monopoly with Incomplete Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 171-196, Summer.
  2. Russell Cooper, 1984. "On Allocative Distortions in Problems of Self-Selection," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(4), pages 568-577, Winter.
  3. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1984. "The optimal use of fines and imprisonment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 89-99, June.
  4. Dickens, William T, et al, 1989. "Employee Crime and the Monitoring Puzzle," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(3), pages 331-47, July.
  5. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  6. Wilde, Louis L., 1992. "Criminal choice, nonmonetary sanctions and marginal deterrence: A normative analysis," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 333-344, September.
  7. James Andreoni, 1991. "Reasonable Doubt and the Optimal Magnitude of Fines: Should the Penalty Fit the Crime?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(3), pages 385-395, Autumn.
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