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Costly Sanctions and the Maximum Penalty Principle

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Abstract

We study the problem of deterring undesirable behavior in a moral hazard framework with risk averse individuals, noisy information and costly sanctions. We find that, if sanctions are a pure loss, a utilitarian society should use a bang-bang penalty scheme satisfying the maximum penalty principle. If sanctions are monetary but imposing sanctions involves a sufficiently large resource cost, the maximum feasible sanction should also be imposed with positive probability. As a possible justification for endogenously limiting sanctions, we derive the optimal penalty scheme under a Rawlsian welfare function. The maximum sanction actually imposed is then smaller than in the utilitarian case, but it is imposed more frequently. Cet article analyse le problème de la dissuasion des comportemenmts indésirables dans un contexte d'aléa moral avec aversion au risque, information imparfaite et coûts de sanction. Nous montrons que, si les sanctions imposées aux individus sont une pure perte sociale, la politique utilitariste optimale consiste à utiliser un mécanisme de sanction dichotomique satisfaisant le principe de la sanction maximale. Si les sanctions sont pécuniaires mais qu'imposer des sanctions implique un coût en ressource suffisamment élevé, la sanction maximale permise devrait également être imposée avec une probabilité positive. Comme justification possible de sanctions limitées, nous analysons la politique de dissuasion optimale avec une fonction de bien-être rawlsienne. Le sanction maximale est dans ce cas inférieure à celle d'une politique utilitariste, mais elle est imposée plus fréquemment.

Suggested Citation

  • Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 1999. "Costly Sanctions and the Maximum Penalty Principle," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 100, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  • Handle: RePEc:cre:crefwp:100
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David Masclet, 2003. "L'analyse de l'influence de la pression des pairs dans les équipes de travail," CIRANO Working Papers 2003s-35, CIRANO.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Deterrence; optimal enforcement; moral hazard; maximal penalty; Rawl's criterion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • K1 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law

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