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Stigma and Social Control

  • Blume, Lawrence

    (Department of Economics, Cornell University)

Social interactions provide a set of incentives for regulating individual behavior. Chief among these is stigma, the status loss and discrimination that results from the display of stigmatized attributes or behaviors. The stigmatization of behavior is the enforcement mechanism behind social norms. This paper models the incentive effects of stigmatization in the context of undertaking criminal acts. Stigma is a flow cost of uncertain duration which varies negatively with the number of stigmatized individuals. Criminal opportunities arrive randomly and an equilibrium model describes the conditions under which each individual chooses the behavior that, if detected, is stigmatized. The comparative static analysis of stigma costs differs from that of conventional penalties. One surprising result with important policy implications is that stigma costs of long duration will lead to increased crime rates.

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Paper provided by Institute for Advanced Studies in its series Economics Series with number 119.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ihs:ihsesp:119
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  1. Kandori, M. & Mailath, G.J., 1991. "Learning, Mutation, And Long Run Equilibria In Games," Papers 71, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - John M. Olin Program.
  2. Lawrence E. Blume, 1995. "Evolutionary Equilibrium with Forward-Looking Players," Game Theory and Information 9509001, EconWPA.
  3. Akihiko Matsui & Kiminori Matsuyama, 1991. "An Approach to Equilibrium Selection," Discussion Papers 1065, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Zhou Lin, 1994. "The Set of Nash Equilibria of a Supermodular Game Is a Complete Lattice," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 295-300, September.
  5. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  6. L. Blume, 2010. "The Statistical Mechanics of Strategic Interaction," Levine's Working Paper Archive 488, David K. Levine.
  7. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
  8. Blume,L. & Durlauf,S., 2002. "Equilibrium concepts for social interaction models," Working papers 7, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  9. Frank A. Cowell, 1990. "Cheating the Government: The Economics of Evasion," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262532484, June.
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