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The Becker Paradox and Type I vs. Type II Errors in the Economics of Crime

Two real-world observations are not easily replicated in models of crime. First, although capital punishment is optimal in Becker’s (1968) model, it is rarely observed in the real world. Second, criminal procedure and the evaluation of evidence vary across societies and historical periods, the standard of proof being sometimes very high and sometimes quite low. In this paper, we develop a general equilibrium model of judicial procedure allowing for innocent persons being convicted. We show that the median voter theorem applies to this model, making judicial procedure endogenous. So formulated, the model can replicate both empirical observations.

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Paper provided by Stockholm University, Department of Economics in its series Research Papers in Economics with number 2006:1.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 10 Jan 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2006_0001
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Web page: http://www.ne.su.se/
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  1. Persson, T. & Tabellini, G., 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Papers 630, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  2. George J. Stigler, 1974. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 55-67 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kenneth Burdett & Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2002. "Crime, Inequality, and Unemployment, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 03-029, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Sep 2003.
  4. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1993. "Why Is Rent-Seeking So Costly to Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 409-14, May.
  5. Harris, John R, 1970. "On the Economics of Law and Order," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 165-74, Jan.-Feb..
  6. repec:att:wimass:8908 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Jesper Roine, 2006. "The political economics of not paying taxes," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 126(1), pages 107-134, January.
  8. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 1992. "Accuracy in the Determination of Liability," NBER Working Papers 4203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Sah, Raaj K, 1991. "Social Osmosis and Patterns of Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1272-95, December.
  10. Nalebuff, Barry & Scharfstein, David, 1987. "Testing in Models of Asymmetric Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2), pages 265-77, April.
  11. James Andreoni, 1991. "Reasonable Doubt and the Optimal Magnitude of Fines: Should the Penalty Fit the Crime?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(3), pages 385-395, Autumn.
  12. 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.
  13. Persson, Mats & Siven, Claes-Henric, 2006. "Incentive and incarceration effects in a general equilibrium model of crime," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 214-229, February.
  14. Png, I. P. L., 1986. "Optimal subsidies and damages in the presence of judicial error," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 101-105, June.
  15. Chien-Chieh Huang & Derek Laing & Ping Wang, 2004. "Crime And Poverty: A Search-Theoretic Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 909-938, 08.
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