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Prosecution Associations in Industrial Revolution England: Private Providers of Public Goods?


  • M Koyama


In early 19th century England there was no professional police force and most prosecutions were private. This paper examines how associations for the prosecution of felons arose to internalise the positive externalities produced by private prosecutions. Drawing upon new historical evidence, it examines how the internal governance and incentive structures of prosecution associations enabled them to provide public goods. Consistent with Demsetz (1970), prosecution associations were economic clubs that bundled the private good of insurance with the public good of deterrence. Associations used local newspapers to advertise rewards and attract new members. Price discrimination was employed in order to elicit contributions from individuals with di erent security demands. Selective incentives helped overcome to free-rider problems between members.

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  • M Koyama, 2011. "Prosecution Associations in Industrial Revolution England: Private Providers of Public Goods?," Centre for Historical Economics and Related Research at York (CHERRY) Discussion Papers 11/01, CHERRY, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  • Handle: RePEc:yor:cherry:11/01

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Koyama, Mark, 2012. "The Law and Economics of Private Prosecutions in Industrial Revolution England," MPRA Paper 40500, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Mark Koyama, 2014. "The law & economics of private prosecutions in industrial revolution England," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(1), pages 277-298, April.
    3. Andrew T. Young, 2016. "What does it take for a roving bandit settle down? Theory and an illustrative history of the Visigoths," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 168(1), pages 75-102, July.
    4. repec:kap:pubcho:v:171:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11127-016-0400-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Rodriguez Acosta, Mauricio, 2016. "Essays in political economy and resource economic : A macroeconomic approach," Other publications TiSEM 1e39ef1b-43a2-4f95-892c-6, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.

    More about this item


    public goods ; private prosecutions ; insurance selective incentives;

    JEL classification:

    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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