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Optimal magnitude and probability of fines

  • Nuno Garoupa

The economic literature on crime and punishment focuses on the trade-off between probability and severity of punishment, and suggests that detection probability and fines are substitutes. In this paper it is shown that, in presence of substantial underdeterrence caused by costly detection and punishment, these instruments may become complements. When offenders are poor, the deterrent value of monetary sanctions is low. Thus, the government does not invest a lot in detection. If offenders are rich, however, the deterrent value of monetary sanctions is high, so it is more profitable to prosecute them.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 454.

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Date of creation: Apr 2000
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:454
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  1. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1990. "Enforcement Costs and the Optimal Magnitude and Probability of Fines," NBER Working Papers 3429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  3. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1982. "The Optimal Use of Fines and Imprisonment," NBER Working Papers 0932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Garoupa, Nuno, 1997. " The Theory of Optimal Law Enforcement," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 267-95, September.
  5. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1999. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 6993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1990. "A Note on Optimal Fines When Wealth Varies Among Individuals," NBER Working Papers 3232, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. Kaplow, Louis, 1992. "The optimal probability and magnitude of fines for acts that definitely are undesirable," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 3-11, March.
  9. Shavell, Steven, 1987. "The Optimal Use of Nonmonetary Sanctions as a Deterrent," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 584-92, September.
  10. Shavell, Steven, 1993. "The Optimal Structure of Law Enforcement," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 255-87, April.
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