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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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1555-5879
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Volume 11, Issue 1

Issues

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

Abstract

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

References

  • Beccaria, Cesare and Voltaire. 1953. An Essay on Crimes and Punishments. Stanford, CA: Academic Reprints.Google Scholar

  • Becker, Gary S. 1968. “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach,” 76 Journal of Political Economy 169–217.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Block, Michael K., and Robert C. Lind. 1975. “An Economic Analysis of Crimes Punishable by Imprisonment,” 4 The Journal of Legal Studies 479–492.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Brown, William W., and Morgan O. Reynolds. 1973. “Crime and “Punishment”: Risk Implications,” 6 Journal of Economic Theory 508–514.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Mungan, Murat C., and Jonathan Klick. 2014. “Forfeiture of Illegal Gains, Attempts, and Implied Risk Preferences,” 43 Journal of Legal Studies 137–153.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Neilson, William S. and Harold Winter. 1997. “On Criminals’ Risk Attitudes,” 55 Economics Letters 97–102.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Polinsky, A. Mitchell, and Steven Shavell. 1999. “On the Disutility and Discounting of Imprisonment and the Theory of Deterrence,” 28 The Journal of Legal Studies 1–16.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Pyne, Derek. 2012. “Deterrence: Increased Enforcement versus Harsher Penalties,” 117 Economics Letters 561–562.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

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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[2]
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[3]
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