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The Robber Wants To Be Punished

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  • Uri Weiss

Abstract

It is a commonly held intuition that increasing punishment leads to less crime. Let's move our glance from the punishment for the crime itself to the punishment for the attempt to commit a crime, or to the punishment for the threat to carry it out. We'll argue that the greater the punishment for the attempt to rob, i.e. for the threat, "give me your money or else…", the greater the number of robberies and attempts there will be. The punishment for the threat makes the withdrawal from it more expensive for the criminal, making the relative cost of committing the crime lower. In other words, the punishment of the attempt turns the attempt into a commitment by the robber, while at the same time turning an incredible threat into a credible one. Therefore, the robber has a strong interest in a legal system that increases the punishment of the attempt.

Suggested Citation

  • Uri Weiss, 2015. "The Robber Wants To Be Punished," Discussion Paper Series dp685, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  • Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp685
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    File URL: http://ratio.huji.ac.il/sites/default/files/publications/dp685.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Oren Bar-Gill & Omri Ben-Shahar, 2004. "The Law of Duress and the Economics of Credible Threats," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 391-430, June.
    3. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 2001. "Corruption and optimal law enforcement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 1-24, July.
    4. Eyal Winter, 2009. "Incentive Reversal," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 133-147, August.
    5. 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.
    6. Alon Harel & Alon Klement, 2007. "The Economics of Stigma: Why More Detection of Crime May Result in Less Stigmatization," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 355-377, June.
    7. Nussim, Jacob & Tabbach, Avraham D., 2009. "Deterrence and avoidance," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 314-323, December.
    8. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye, 1996. "A New Theory Concerning the Credibility and Success of Threats to Sue," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 1-25, January.
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