Elected vs appointed public law enforcers
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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