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Time and Punishment: An Intertemporal Model of Crime


  • Davis, Michael L


If an increase in the rate at which a criminal commits crimes lowers the expected time until detection, the income from crime (net of expected fines) must be dis counted at a rate that varies with the crime rate. This paper models the criminal's choice of the optimal crime rate under such conditions. It is shown that, irrespective of the criminal's attitude toward risk, an increase in the probability of detection is more likely to deter crime than a comparable increase in penalties. Other implications of the model for the optimal enforcement of laws are also explored. Copyright 1988 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Davis, Michael L, 1988. "Time and Punishment: An Intertemporal Model of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 383-390, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:96:y:1988:i:2:p:383-90

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Grossman, Sanford J & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1980. "On the Impossibility of Informationally Efficient Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 393-408, June.
    2. McCafferty, Stephen & Driskill, Robert, 1980. "Problems of Existence and Uniqueness in Nonlinear Rational Expectations Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1313-1317, July.
    3. Stephen W. Salant, 1974. "Profitable speculation, price stability, and welfare," International Finance Discussion Papers 54, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    4. Danthine, Jean-Pierre, 1978. "Information, futures prices, and stabilizing speculation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 79-98, February.
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