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Why is Law Enforcement Decentralized?


  • Cheikbossian, Guillaume
  • Marceau, Nicolas


Law enforcement is decentralized. It is so despite documented interjurisdictional externalities which would justify its centralization. To explain this fact, we construct a political economy model of law enforcement. Under decentralization, law enforcement in each region is in accord with the preferences of regional citizens, but interjurisdictional externalities are neglected. Under centralization, law enforcement for all regions is chosen by a legislature of regional representatives which may take externalities into account. However, the majority rule applies for decisions made by the central legislature and this implies that the allocation of enforcement resources may be skewed in favour of those who belong to the required majority. We show that the choice between centralization and decentralization depends on the technology of law enforcement and the nature of the interjurisdictional externalities.

Suggested Citation

  • Cheikbossian, Guillaume & Marceau, Nicolas, 2009. "Why is Law Enforcement Decentralized?," TSE Working Papers 09-022, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:22142

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    12. Nicolas Marceau, 1997. "Competition in Crime Deterrence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(4), pages 844-854, November.
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    14. Koleman S. Strumpf & Felix Oberholzer-Gee, 2002. "Endogenous Policy Decentralization: Testing the Central Tenet of Economic Federalism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 1-36, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marceau, Nicolas, 2008. "La concurrence entre gouvernements est-elle bénéfique?," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 84(4), pages 365-390, Décembre.
    2. Libman, Alexander Mikhailovich, 2009. "Эндогенные Границы И Распределение Власти В Федерациях И Международных Сообществах
      ," MPRA Paper 16473, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    crime; law enforcement; decentralization; externalities;

    JEL classification:

    • L42 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Vertical Restraints; Resale Price Maintenance; Quantity Discounts


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