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Criminal choice, nonmonetary sanctions and marginal deterrence: A normative analysis

Wilde, Louis L. (1992) Criminal choice, nonmonetary sanctions and marginal deterrence: A normative analysis. International Review of Law and Economics, 12 (3). pp. 333-344. ISSN 0144-8188. doi:10.1016/0144-8188(92)90012-G.

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Normative models of the optimal use of sanctions, monetary as well as nonmonetary, that employ the assumption of precommitment on the part of social authorities provide an important and useful benchmark for the evaluation of existing policies. Ever since Gary Becker published his classic article on the economics of crime (Becker, 1968), however, a conundrum has plagued the literature: if law enforcement is costly but crimes are socially undesirable and potentially deterrable, then efficiency requires that for all crimes the probability of apprehension be set arbitrarily low and the sanction arbitrarily high (see, e.g., Carr-Hill and Stern, 1979). This solution imposes no costs on society as long as the expected sanction is high enough to deter all crime; since no crime is ever committed, the sanction never need be imposed. Hence, even if sanctions are costly to impose, as in the case of nonmonetary sanctions, this is the efficient solution.

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Alternate Title:Criminal Choice, Nonmonetary Sanctions, and Marginal Deterrence: A Normative Analysis
Additional Information:© 1992 Elsevier Inc. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant no. SES-8902545). It is adapted in substantial measure from Reinganum and Wilde (1986a. b). I thank Professor Reinganum for her contributions, but she bears no responsibility for opinions or conclusions stated herein, or any errors or shortcomings of the analysis. Two referees and a co-editor also provided useful suggestions.
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Issue or Number:3
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Official Citation:Louis L. Wilde, Criminal choice, nonmonetary sanctions and marginal deterrence: A normative analysis, International Review of Law and Economics, Volume 12, Issue 3, 1992, Pages 333-344, ISSN 0144-8188, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:81172
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:06 Sep 2017 17:29
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 19:41

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