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Elected vs appointed public law enforcers

  • Éric Langlais
  • Marie Obidzinski

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 rst consider the case of an elected enforcer. We nd that when the harm generated by offenses is quite small relative to the average private bene ts, equilibrium with weak enforcement/low sanction prevails. Instead, when the harm generated by offenses is high relative to the average private bene ts, 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://economix.fr/pdf/dt/2013/WP_EcoX_2013-35.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Paris West - Nanterre la Défense, EconomiX in its series EconomiX Working Papers with number 2013-35.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:drm:wpaper:2013-35
Contact details of provider: Postal: 200 Avenue de la République, Bât. G - 92001 Nanterre Cedex
Web page: http://economix.fr
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  1. Eric Maskin, 2003. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," Theory workshop papers 505798000000000076, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
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  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. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2007. "Bureaucrats or Politicians? Part I: A Single Policy Task," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000870, David K. Levine.
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  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. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
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