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The Dynamics of Neighbourhood Watch and Norm Enforcement

  • Steffen Huck
  • Michael Kosfeld

We analyze the dynamics of neighbourhood watch programs in a local interaction framework. Agents can watch their neighbours' houses and thus deter burglars from breaking in. At the same time, agents also try to recruit their neighbours to join the neighbourhood watch program. The probability of an agent joining the neighbourhood watch program depends on the success of the program, i.e., whether burglaries continue to occur. We show that the punishment of burglars plays a dual role in this context. On the one hand, punishment deters burglaries if the level of punishment is sufficiently high. On the other hand, it also affects the probability of an agent joining the neighbourhood watch program. In particular, we show that if recruitment is harder when burglaries do not occur, a legal policy attempting to improve deterrence using more severe punishment is suboptimal. In a second part, we extend our model to the study of norm enforcement in public goods dilemmas and show that our results remain valid if agents can punish each other (instead of burglars) for not contributing to the public good. Our paper thus provides a first analysis of the evolution of "altruistic punishment" in large populations with local interaction.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 199.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:199
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  1. Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "Punishing Free Riders: how group size affects mutual monitoring and the provision of public goods," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0206, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  2. Michael Kosfeld, 2002. "Stochastic strategy adjustment in coordination games," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 321-339.
  3. Offerman, T.J.S. & Potters, J.J.M. & Sonnemans, J., 2002. "Imitation and belief learning in an oligopoly experiment," Other publications TiSEM a6a771c5-31ba-4193-8f76-a, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  4. Glaeser, Edward L & Sacerdote, Bruce & Scheinkman, Jose A, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-48, May.
  5. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2007. "The demand for punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 522-542, April.
  6. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 1999. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 183, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2003. "Altruistic Punishment in Humans," Microeconomics 0305006, EconWPA.
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