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Theft and Deterrence

  • Harbaugh, William T.

    ()

    (University of Oregon)

  • Mocan, Naci

    ()

    (Louisiana State University)

  • Visser, Michael S.

    ()

    (Sonoma State University)

We report results from economic experiments of decisions that are best described as petty larceny, with high school and college students who can anonymously steal real money from each other. Our design allows exogenous variation in the rewards of crime, and the penalty and probability of detection. We find that the probability of stealing is increasing in the amount of money that can be stolen, and that it is decreasing in the probability of getting caught and in the penalty for getting caught. Furthermore, the impact of the certainty of getting caught is larger when the penalty is bigger, and the impact of the penalty is bigger when the probability of getting caught is larger.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp5813.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5813.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in Journal of Labor Research, 2013, 34(4), 389-407
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5813
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  1. Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 2004. "Crime and Economic Incentives," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
  2. H. Naci Mocan & Daniel I. Rees, 1999. "Economic Conditions, Deterrence and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 7405, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Thomas J. Miceli, 2008. "Criminal Sentencing Guidelines And Judicial Discretion," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(2), pages 207-215, 04.
  4. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H. & Schulze, William D., 1992. "Why do people pay taxes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 21-38, June.
  5. Isaac Ehrlich, 1973. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Question of Life and Death," NBER Working Papers 0018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Alm, James & McKee, Michael, 2004. "Tax compliance as a coordination game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 297-312, July.
  7. H. Naci Mocan & Stephen C. Billups & Jody Overland, 2000. "A Dynamic Model of Differential Human Capital and Criminal Activity," NBER Working Papers 7584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Drago, Francesco & Galbiati, Roberto & Vertova, Pietro, 2007. "The Deterrent Effects of Prison: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2912, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Hansen, Kirstine & Machin, Stephen, 2002. " Spatial Crime Patterns and the Introduction of the UK Minimum Wage," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 64(0), pages 677-97, Supplemen.
  10. Alm, James & McKee, Michael, 2006. "Audit Certainty, Audit Productivity, and Taxpayer Compliance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 59(4), pages 801-16, December.
  11. Corman, Hope & Mocan, Naci, 2005. "Carrots, Sticks, and Broken Windows," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 235-66, April.
  12. Naci H. Mocan & Bulent Unel, 2011. "Skill-biased Technological Change, Earnings of Unskilled Workers, and Crime," NBER Working Papers 17605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Mocan, H Naci & Gittings, R Kaj, 2003. "Getting Off Death Row: Commuted Sentences and the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 453-78, October.
  14. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and status: Height, ability, and labor market outcomes," Working Papers 27, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  15. Levitt, Steven D, 1998. "Why Do Increased Arrest Rates Appear to Reduce Crime: Deterrence, Incapacitation, or Measurement Error?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 353-72, July.
  16. Witte, Ann Dryden, 1980. "Estimating the Economic Model of Crime with Individual Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 57-84, February.
  17. Max M. Schanzenbach & Emerson H. Tiller, 2007. "Strategic Judging Under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines: Positive Political Theory and Evidence," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(1), pages 24-56, April.
  18. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  19. Shawn D. Bushway & Emily G. Owens & Anne Morrison Piehl, 2011. "Sentencing Guidelines and Judicial Discretion: Quasi-experimental Evidence from Human Calculation Errors," NBER Working Papers 16961, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Block, M K & Heineke, J M, 1975. "A Labor Theoretic Analysis of the Criminal Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 314-25, June.
  21. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  22. H. Naci Mocan & Hope Corman, 2000. "A Time-Series Analysis of Crime, Deterrence, and Drug Abuse in New York City," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 584-604, June.
  23. Judith Blake, 1981. "Family size and the quality of children," Demography, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 421-442, November.
  24. Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effects of Police on Crime: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1244-1250, September.
  25. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2004. "Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 115-133, March.
  26. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
  27. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
  28. David B. Mustard, 2003. "Reexamining Criminal Behavior: The Importance of Omitted Variable Bias," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 205-211, February.
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