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Detection avoidance and deterrence: some paradoxical arithmetics

  • Eric Langlais

This paper extends Malik's (1990) analysis to the case where criminals' avoidance efforts and public expenditures in the detection of criminals are strategic complements in the aggregate technology of control of illegal behaviours. In this set up, we show that whenever criminals' avoidance efforts are more sensitive to the frequency than to the severity of sanctions, it is always socially efficient to set the fine at the maximal possible level. However, several paradoxical consequences occur: there may exist overdeterrence at optimum; more repressive policies lead to less arrestations of offenders while more crimes may be committed; at the same time, the society may be closer to the first best number of crimes.

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Paper provided by Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg in its series Working Papers of BETA with number 2007-06.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ulp:sbbeta:2007-06
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  1. Block, Michael K & Gerety, Vernon E, 1995. "Some Experimental Evidence on Differences between Student and Prisoner Reactions to Monetary Penalties and Risk," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 123-38, January.
  2. Nalebuff, Barry & Scharfstein, David, 1987. "Testing in Models of Asymmetric Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2), pages 265-77, April.
  3. Nuno Garoupa, 2000. "Optimal magnitude and probability of fines," Economics Working Papers 454, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  4. Grogger, Jeffrey, 1991. "Certainty vs. Severity of Punishment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 297-309, April.
  5. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye & Kaplow, Louis, 1993. "Optimal sanctions and differences in individuals' likelihood of avoiding detection," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 217-224, June.
  6. Lewin, Jeff L. & Trumbull, William N., 1990. "The social value of crime?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 271-284, December.
  7. Neilson, William S, 1998. "Optimal Punishment Schemes with State-Dependent Preferences," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(2), pages 266-71, April.
  8. Neilson, William S. & Winter, Harold, 1997. "On criminals' risk attitudes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 97-102, August.
  9. Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 45-76, March.
  10. Garoupa, Nuno, 1997. " The Theory of Optimal Law Enforcement," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 267-95, September.
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