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Elected vs appointed public law enforcers

  • Eric Langlais

    ()

    (EconomiX, UMR CNRS 7235 and University of Paris Ouest-Nanterre-La Défense)

  • Marie Obidzinski

    ()

    (CRESE, Université de Franche-Comté)

This paper revisits the issue of law enforcement and the design of monetary sanctions when the public law enforcer's incentives depart from those of a benevolent authority, which is the most frequent assumption made in the literature on crime deterrence. We first consider the case an elected enforcer. We find that when the harm generated by offenses is quite small relative to the average private benefits, equilibrium with weak enforcement/low sanction prevails. Instead, when the harm generated by offenses is high relative to the average private benefits, it is the equilibrium with strong enforcement/high sanctions that prevails. Therefore, we provide an explanation for the empirical puzzle highlighted by Lin(2007): elected enforcers punish major (minor) crimes more (less) severely than the benevolent social planer. The case of an appointed enforcer prone to rent seeking is also considered. The monetary sanction under rent seeking is closer to the utilitarian level, as compared with the one under election.

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File URL: http://crese.univ-fcomte.fr/WP-2013-06.pdf
File Function: First version, 2013
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Paper provided by CRESE in its series Working Papers with number 2013-06.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:crb:wpaper:2013-06
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  1. Meloni, Osvaldo, 2012. "Is there an electoral-motivated crime rate cycle? Evidence from Argentina," MPRA Paper 40177, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Nuno Garoupa & Daniel Klerman, 2002. "Optimal Law Enforcement with a Rent-Seeking Government," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 116-140, January.
  3. David Friedman, 1999. "Why Not Hang Them All: The Virtues of Inefficient Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S259-S269, December.
  4. Carlos Berdejó & Noam Yuchtman, 2013. "Crime, Punishment, and Politics: An Analysis of Political Cycles in Criminal Sentencing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 741-756, July.
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  7. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Gary S. Becker & George J. Stigler, 1974. "Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
  9. F. Andrew Hanssen, 2004. "Is There a Politically Optimal Level of Judicial Independence?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 712-729, June.
  10. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1999. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 6993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2007. "Bureaucrats or Politicians? Part I: A Single Policy Task," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 169-179, March.
  12. Roger Bowles & Michael Faure & Nuno Garoupa, 2008. "The scope of criminal law and criminal sanctions: An economic view and policy implications," Working Papers 2008-03, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales.
  13. Ingolf Dittmann, 2006. "The Optimal Use of Fines and Imprisonment If Governments Do Not Maximize Welfare," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 8(4), pages 677-695, October.
  14. Jennifer Reinganum, 2000. "Sentencing Guidelines, Judicial Discretion, and Plea Bargaining," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(1), pages 62-81, Spring.
  15. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 2001. "Any Non-welfarist Method of Policy Assessment Violates the Pareto Principle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 281-286, April.
  16. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  17. Lin, Ming-Jen, 2007. "Does democracy increase crime? The evidence from international data," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 467-483, September.
  18. Andrew Dyke, 2007. "Electoral cycles in the administration of criminal justice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 133(3), pages 417-437, December.
  19. Gradstein, Mark, 1993. "Rent Seeking and the Provision of Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(420), pages 1236-43, September.
  20. Daniel M. Klerman, 2005. "The Value of Judicial Independence: Evidence from Eighteenth Century England," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(1), pages 1-27.
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