The Scope of Punishment: An Economic Theory of Harm-Based vs. Act-Based Sanctions
The harm caused by many acts is not certain but probabilistic. Current public enforcement of the law combines harm-based sanctions (usually in criminal law) with act-based sanctions (very common in administrative law and regulation). We propose an economic theory of the choice between harm-based and act-based sanctions in public enforcement. The efficiency of act-based versus harm-based sanctions is analyzed and a typology of the determinants is drawn up. In the simple model with risk neutral offenders, both legal policies have the same deterrent level, but act-based sanctions end up punishing more people and the sanctions are lower. However when the assessment of the probability of harm diverges across individuals, the choice between harm-based or act-based sanctions depends on whether it is the enforcer or the average individual who is better informed. Legal policy implications are discussed.
|Date of creation:||Oct 2006|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820
|Order Information:|| Email: |
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Dhammika Dharmapala & Nuno Garoupa, 2004.
"Penalty Enhancement for Hate Crimes: An Economic Analysis,"
American Law and Economics Review,
Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 185-207.
- Dhammika Dharmapala & Nuno Garoupa, 2002. "Penalty Enhancement for Hate Crimes: An Economic Analysis," Working papers 2002-12, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
- Friedman, David D, 1991. "Impossibility, Subjective Probability, and Punishment for Attempts," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 179-86, January.
- A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1999.
"The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law,"
NBER Working Papers
6993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Shavell, Steven, 1990. "Deterrence and the Punishment of Attempts," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 435-66, June.
- Isaac Ehrlich & Richard A. Posner, 1974. "An Economic Analysis of Legal Rulemaking," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 257-286, January.
- Gary S. Becker, 1974.
"Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach,"
in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Schmitz, Patrick W., 2000.
"On the Joint Use of Liability and Safety Regulation,"
12536, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Schmitz, Patrick W., 2000. "On the joint use of liability and safety regulation," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 371-382, September.
- Polinsky, Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1979. "The Optimal Tradeoff between the Probability and Magnitude of Fines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(5), pages 880-91, December.
- Fon, Vincy & Parisi, Francesco, 2007. "On the optimal specificity of legal rules," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 147-164, August.
- Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, I P L, 1992. "Monitoring vis-a-vis Investigation in Enforcement of Law," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 556-65, June.
- Louis Kaplow, 1992. "A Model of the Optimal Complexity of Rules," NBER Working Papers 3958, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5899. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask to update the entry or send us the correct address
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.