Are "Gangstas" Peacocks? The Handicap Principle and Illicit Markets
Criminals who wear gang colors are acting in a surprisingly brazen way which must increase the probability of being caught and punished by the police. In our model this brazen behavior is a solution to an enforcement problem. The central idea is that less able criminals see lower gains from continued participation in crime because they will be caught and punished more often. Lower future gains imply that reputational concerns will be less effective at enforcing honesty. Only dealing with brazen criminals will become a good way to avoid dealing with incompetent criminals, because they cannot afford to mimic the brazen behavior. The principle is similar to the selection for a handicap in evolutionary biology.
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- Okuno-Fujiwara Masahiro & Postlewaite Andrew, 1995. "Social Norms and Random Matching Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 79-109, April.
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