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Optimal Law Enforcement with Self-Reporting of Behavior

  • Louis Kaplow
  • Steven Shavell

Self-reporting -- the reporting by parties of their own behavior to an enforcement authority -- is a commonly observed aspect of law enforcement, as in the context of environmental and safety regulation. We add self-reporting to the model of the control of harmful externalities through probabilistic law enforcement. Optimal self-reporting schemes are characterized and are shown to offer two advantages over schemes without self-reporting: enforcement resources are saved because individuals who are led to report harmful acts need not be identified; risk is reduced because individuals bear certain sanctions when they report their behavior, rather than face uncertain sanctions.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3822.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3822.

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Date of creation: Aug 1991
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 102, no. 3, pp. 583-606, (June 1994).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3822
Note: LE
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  1. Polinsky, Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1979. "The Optimal Tradeoff between the Probability and Magnitude of Fines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(5), pages 880-91, December.
  2. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, I P L, 1990. "Enforcement Costs and the Optimal Progressivity of Income Taxes," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 410-31, Fall.
  3. Stigler, George J, 1970. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(3), pages 526-36, May-June.
  4. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  5. Robert Townsend, 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Staff Report 45, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, Ivan, 1989. "Optimal Auditing, Insurance, and Redistribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 399-415, May.
  7. Ronald A. Dye, 1986. "Optimal Monitoring Policies in Agencies," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 339-350, Autumn.
  8. Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1987. "Audit Classes and Tax Enforcement Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 229-33, May.
  9. Reinganum, Jennifer F. & Wilde, Louis L., 1985. "Income tax compliance in a principal-agent framework," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 1-18, February.
  10. Border, Kim C & Sobel, Joel, 1987. "Samurai Accountant: A Theory of Auditing and Plunder," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 525-40, October.
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