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Status-Seeking in Criminal Subcultures and the Double Dividend of Zero-Tolerance

  • Dur, Robert

    ()

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • van der Weele, Joël

    ()

    (Goethe University Frankfurt)

This paper offers a new argument for why a more aggressive enforcement of minor offenses ('zero-tolerance') may yield a double dividend in that it reduces both minor offenses and more severe crime. We develop a model of criminal subcultures in which people gain social status among their peers for being 'tough' by committing criminal acts. As zero-tolerance keeps relatively 'gutless' people from committing a minor offense, the signaling value of that action increases, which makes it attractive for some people who would otherwise commit more severe crime. If social status is sufficiently important in criminal subcultures, zero-tolerance reduces crime across the board.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5484.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Public Economic Theory, 2013, 15 (1), 77-93
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5484
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