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Efficient Institutions and Effective Deterrence: On Timing and Uncertainty of Punishment

Author

Listed:
  • Johannes Buckenmaier
  • Eugen Dimant

    (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Ann-Christin Posten
  • Ulrich Schmidt

Abstract

This paper presents the first controlled economic experiment to study celerity, i.e. the effectiveness of swiftness of punishment in reducing illicit behavior. We consider two dimensions: timing of punishment and timing of the resolution of uncertainty regarding the punishment. We find a surprising u-shaped relation between deterrence and the delays of punishment and uncertainty resolution. Institutions that either reveal detection and impose punishment immediately or maintain uncertainty about the state of detection and impose punishment sufficiently late are equally effective at deterring illicit behavior. Our results yield strong implications for the design of institutional policies to mitigate misconduct and reduce recidivism.

Suggested Citation

  • Johannes Buckenmaier & Eugen Dimant & Ann-Christin Posten & Ulrich Schmidt, 2018. "Efficient Institutions and Effective Deterrence: On Timing and Uncertainty of Punishment," PPE Working Papers 0014, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:ppc:wpaper:0014
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
    2. Tomasz Strzalecki, 2013. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Recursive Models of Ambiguity Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(3), pages 1039-1074, May.
    3. George Wu, 1999. "Anxiety and Decision Making with Delayed Resolution of Uncertainty," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 159-199, April.
    4. Yu, Jiang, 1994. "Punishment celerity and severity: Testing a specific deterrence model on drunk driving recidivism," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 355-366.
    5. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 251-278, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dimant, Eugen & van Kleef, Gerben A. & Shalvi, Shaul, 2020. "Requiem for a Nudge: Framing effects in nudging honesty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 172(C), pages 247-266.
    2. Cristina Bicchieri & Eugen Dimant, 2018. "It's Not A Lie If You Believe It. Lying and Belief Distortion Under Norm-Uncertainty," PPE Working Papers 0012, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Deterrence; Institutions; Punishment; Swiftness; Uncertainty;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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