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Review of Law & Economics

Editor-in-Chief: Parisi, Francesco / Engel, Christoph

Ed. by Cooter, Robert D. / Gómez Pomar, Fernando / Kornhauser, Lewis A. / Parchomovsky, Gideon / Franzoni, Luigi Alberto

CiteScore 2018: 0.32

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.274
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.493

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Volume 11, Issue 1


Discounting and Criminals’ Implied Risk Preferences

Murat C. Mungan
  • College of Law, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA
  • Department of Economics, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA
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/ Jonathan Klick
Published Online: 2015-02-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/rle-2014-0048


Conventional wisdom holds that potential offenders are more responsive to increases in the certainty than increases in the severity of punishment. In standard law enforcement models, this assumption implies that criminals are risk seeking. We add to the existing literature by showing that offenders who discount future monetary benefits can be more responsive to the certainty rather than the severity of punishment, even when they are risk averse, and even when their disutility from imprisonment rises proportionally (or more than proportionally) with the length of the sentence.

Keywords: certainty of punishment; severity of punishment; deterrence; risk attitudes; discounting

JEL Classification: K00; K10; K14; K40; K42


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-02-19

Published in Print: 2015-03-01

Citation Information: Review of Law & Economics, Volume 11, Issue 1, Pages 19–23, ISSN (Online) 1555-5879, ISSN (Print) 2194-6000, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/rle-2014-0048.

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