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Why Is Law Enforcement Decentralized?

  • Guillaume Cheikbossian
  • Nicolas Marceau

Law enforcement is decentralized. It is so despite documented interjurisdictional externalities which would justify its centralization. To explain this fact, we construct a political economy model of law enforcement. Under decentralization, law enforcement in each region is in accord with the preferences of regional citizens, but interjurisdictional externalities are neglected. Under centralization, law enforcement for all regions is chosen by a legislature of regional representatives which may take externalities into account. However, the majority rule applies for decisions made by the central legislature and this implies that the allocation of enforcement resources may be skewed in favour of those who belong to the required majority. We show that the choice between centralization and decentralization depends on the technology of law enforcement and the nature of the interjurisdictional externalities.

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Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 0719.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0719
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  1. Edward E. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1738, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Nicolas Marceau & Steeve Mongrain, 2007. "Competition in Law Enforcement and Capital Allocation," Discussion Papers dp07-03, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  3. Nicolas Marceau, 1997. "Competition in Crime Deterrence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(4), pages 844-54, November.
  4. Redoano, Michela & Scharf, Kimberley, 2002. "The Political Economy of Policy Centralization: Direct Versus Representative Democracy," CEPR Discussion Papers 3631, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jens Ludwig & Lawrence F. Katz, 2004. "Neighborhood Effects on Crime for Female and Male Youth: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," NBER Working Papers 10777, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hendriks, Jean & Lockwood, Ben, 2005. "Decentralization and Electoral Accountability : Incentives, Separation, and Voter Welfare," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 729, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  7. Koleman S. Strumpf & Felix Oberholzer-Gee, 2002. "Endogenous Policy Decentralization: Testing the Central Tenet of Economic Federalism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 1-36, February.
  8. Alesina, Alberto F & Angeloni, Ignazio & Etro, Federico, 2003. "International Unions," CEPR Discussion Papers 3913, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Osborne, Martin J & Slivinski, Al, 1996. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 65-96, February.
  10. Brian Jacob & Lars Lefgren & Enrico Moretti, 2007. "The Dynamics of Criminal Behavior: Evidence from Weather Shocks," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(3).
  11. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114, February.
  12. Lockwood, B., 1998. "Distributive Politics and the Benefits of Decentralization," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 513, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  13. Hotte, Louis & van Ypersele, Tanguy, 2005. "Individual Protection Against Property Crime: Decomposing the Effects of Protection Observability," CEPR Discussion Papers 5293, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2003. "Centralized versus decentralized provision of local public goods: a political economy approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2611-2637, December.
  15. DelRossi, Alison F. & Inman, Robert P., 1999. "Changing the price of pork: the impact of local cost sharing on legislators' demands for distributive public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 247-273, February.
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