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Status-Seeking in Violent Subcultures and the Double Dividend of Zero-Tolerance


  • Robert Dur

    () (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam)


This discussion paper has led to a publication in the Journal of Public Economic Theory , 15(1), 77-93. This paper develops a model in which individuals gain social status among their peers for being 'tough' by committing violent acts. We show that a high penalty for moderately violent acts (zero-tolerance) may yield a double dividend in that it reduces both moderate and extreme violence. The reason is that a high penalty keeps relatively 'gutless' individuals from committing moderately violent acts, which raises the signaling value of that action, and thus makes it more attractive for otherwise extremely violent individuals. Conversely, a high penalty for extremely violent acts may backfire, as it induces relatively 'tough' individuals to commit moderately violent acts and so makes moderate violence more attractive for otherwise nonviolent individuals.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Dur, 2006. "Status-Seeking in Violent Subcultures and the Double Dividend of Zero-Tolerance," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 06-005/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20060005

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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Dur & Joël Van Der Weele, 2013. "Status-Seeking in Criminal Subcultures and the Double Dividend of Zero-Tolerance," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 15(1), pages 77-93, February.

    More about this item


    status concerns; violence; subcultures; penalties; zero-tolerance; broken windows policing;

    JEL classification:

    • 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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