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Property Rights, Theft, and Efficiency: The Biblical Waiver of Fines in the Case of Confessed Theft

  • Eliakim Katz
  • Jacob Rosenberg

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Bar Ilan University)

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    In this paper we show that costs associated with infractions of property rights, such as theft, can be reduced by imposing lower penal-ties on individuals who admit to such infractions and make restitution. We find that the socially optimal penalty on a confessed thief may be zero (complete amnesty) or even negative – a person may be given a reward for confessing a theft. The benefits of amnesties were apparently recognized in ancient times and they constitute part of Biblical Law. Moreover, such amnesties have also been informally incorporated into modern legal systems, wherein leniency (a form of partial amnesty) is generally shown to individuals who confess their infractions.

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    File URL: http://www.biu.ac.il/soc/ec/wp/18-01/18-01.pdf
    File Function: Working paper
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2001-18.

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    Date of creation: Nov 2001
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    Handle: RePEc:biu:wpaper:2001-18
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Faculty of Social Sciences, Bar Ilan University 52900 Ramat-Gan
    Phone: Phone: +972-3-5318345
    Fax: +972-3-7384034
    Web page: http://www.biu.ac.il/soc/ecEmail:


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    1. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 1994. "Optimal Law Enforcement with Self-Reporting of Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 583-606, June.
    2. Innes, Robert, 2000. "Self-Reporting in Optimal Law Enforcement When Violators Have Heterogeneous Probabilities of Apprehension," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 287-300, January.
    3. Malik, Arun S. & Schwab, Robert M., 1991. "The economics of tax amnesties," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 29-49, October.
    4. Innes, Robert, 1999. "Remediation and self-reporting in optimal law enforcement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 379-393, June.
    5. Carla Marchese & Alberto Cassone, 2000. "Tax Amnesty as Price-Discriminating Behavior by a Monopolistic Government," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 21-32, January.
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