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Public Enforcement of Law

Author

Listed:
  • A. Mitchell Polinsky

    (Stanford University)

  • Steven Shavell

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

This entry for the forthcoming The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics (Second Edition) surveys the economic analysis of public enforcement of law — the use of public agents (inspectors, tax auditors, police, prosecutors) to detect and to sanction violators of legal rules. We first discuss the basic elements of the theory: the probability of imposition of sanctions, the magnitude and form of sanctions (fines, imprisonment), and the rule of liability. We then examine a variety of extensions, including the costs of imposing fines, mistake, marginal deterrence, settlement, self-reporting, repeat offenses, and incapacitation.

Suggested Citation

  • A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 2006. "Public Enforcement of Law," Discussion Papers 05-016, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:05-016
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lohse, Tim & Pascalau, Razvan & Thomann, Christian, 2014. "Public enforcement of securities market rules: Resource-based evidence from the Securities and Exchange Commission," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 197-212.
    2. Friehe, Tim, 2013. "Tempting righteous citizens? Counterintuitive effects of increasing sanctions in the realm of organized crime," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 37-40.
    3. Muehlenbachs, Lucija & Staubli, Stefan & Cohen, Mark A., 2013. "The Effect of Inspector Group Size and Familiarity on Enforcement and Deterrence," IZA Discussion Papers 7876, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Florian Baumann & Tim Friehe, 2013. "Cheap Talk About The Detection Probability," International Game Theory Review (IGTR), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 15(01), pages 1-16.
    5. Tim Lohse & Christian Thomann, 2015. "Are bad times good news for the Securities and Exchange Commission?," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 33-47, August.
    6. Baumann, Florian & Friehe, Tim, 2015. "Status concerns as a motive for crime?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 46-55.
    7. Lohse, Tim & Pascalau, Razvan & Thomann, Christian, 2014. "Public Enforcement of Securities Market Rules: Resource-based evidence from the Securities Exchange Commission," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 364, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
    8. Armour, John & Mayer, Colin & Polo, Andrea, 2017. "Regulatory Sanctions and Reputational Damage in Financial Markets," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(4), pages 1429-1448, August.
    9. Baumann Florian & Friehe Tim, 2017. "Imperfect Credit Markets and Crime," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 13(2), pages 1-15, July.
    10. Astrid, Gamba & Luca, Stanca, 2016. "Mis-Judging Merit: The Effects of Adjudication Errors in Contests," Working Papers 345, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 14 Jul 2016.
    11. Nøstbakken, Linda, 2008. "Fisheries law enforcement--A survey of the economic literature," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 293-300, May.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    fines; imprisonment; probability of detection; sanctions; crime; enforcement; strict liability; fault-based liability; mistake; marginal deterrence; settlement; self-reporting; repeat offenses; incapacitation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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