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Certainty of Punishment versus Severity of Punishment- An Experimental Investigation

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Abstract

Compliance with laws and regulations depends on the expected penalty facing violators. The expected penalty depends on both the probability of punishment and the severity of the punishment if caught. A key question in the economics of crime literature is whether increasing the probability of punishment is a more effective deterrent than an equivalent increase in the severity of punishment. This paper uses laboratory experiments to investigate this issue, and finds that increasing the severity of punishment is a more effective deterrent than an equivalent increase in the probability of punishment. This result contrasts with the findings of the empirical crime literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Lana Friesen, 2009. "Certainty of Punishment versus Severity of Punishment- An Experimental Investigation," Discussion Papers Series 400, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
  • Handle: RePEc:qld:uq2004:400
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    Cited by:

    1. Christoph Engel, 2016. "Experimental Criminal Law. A Survey of Contributions from Law, Economics and Criminology," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2016_07, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    2. Maximilian von Ehrlich & Tobias Seidel, 2015. "The Persistent Effects of Place-Based Policy: Evidence from the West-German Zonenrandgebiet," CESifo Working Paper Series 5373, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Nicklisch, Andreas & Köke, Sonja & Lange, Andreas, 2016. "Is Adversity a School of Wisdom? Experimental Evidence on Cooperative Protection Against Stochastic Losses," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145716, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Banerjee, Ritwik & Mitra, Arnab, 2017. "On Monetary and Non-Monetary Interventions to Combat Corruption," IZA Discussion Papers 10608, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Murat C. Mungan & Jonathan Klick, 2014. "Forfeiture of Illegal Gains, Attempts, and Implied Risk Preferences," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 137-153.
    6. Mungan, Murat C., 2017. "The certainty versus the severity of punishment, repeat offenders, and stigmatization," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 126-129.
    7. Toru Kikuchi & Sugata Marjit & Biswajit Mandal, 2013. "Trade with Time Zone Differences: Factor Market Implications," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, pages 699-711.
    8. Lisa R. Anderson & Gregory DeAngelo & Winand Emons & Beth Freeborn & Hannes Lang, 2015. "Penalty Structures and Deterrence in a Two-Stage Model: Experimental Evidence," Diskussionsschriften dp1505, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    9. Alm, James & Shimshack, Jay, 2014. "Environmental Enforcement and Compliance: Lessons from Pollution, Safety, and Tax Settings," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 10(4), pages 209-274, December.
    10. Frank Sloan & Lindsey Eldred, 2015. "Do preferences of drinker-drivers differ?," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 241-268, June.
    11. Qin, Xiangdong & Wang, Siyu, 2013. "Using an exogenous mechanism to examine efficient probabilistic punishment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 1-10.
    12. Cardak, Buly A & Neelim, Ananta & Vecci, Joseph & Wu, Kevin, 2017. "Would I lie to you? Strategic deception in the face of uncertain penalties," Working Papers in Economics 689, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    13. Camilo Acosta M. & Daniel Mejía & Angela Zorro M., 2016. "Certainty vs. Severity Revisited: Evidence for Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 014634, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    14. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:4:p:1833-1867 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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