Risk Aversion, Prospect Theory, and Strategic Risk in Law Enforcement: Evidence from an Antitrust Experiment
University of Bologna - Department of Economics
Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)
Chloe Le Coq
SITE-Stockholm School of Economics
Stockholm School of Economics (SITE); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); University of Rome 'Tor Vergata'; EIEF
March 31, 2008
SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance No. 696
In this paper we investigate the effects of risk preferences and attitudes towards risk on optimal antitrust enforcement policies. First, we observe that risk aversion is negatively correlated with players' proclivity to form a cartel, and that increasing the level of fines while reducing the probability of detection enhance deterrence. This confirms that the design of an optimal law enforcement scheme must keep risk attitudes into account, as suggested by Polinsky and Shavell. We also notice that players' propensity towards communication drops right after detection even if the collusive agreement was successful, and it declines as the sum of the fines paid by a subject increases. This effect could be explained by availability heuristic, Â-a cognitive bias, where people's perception of a risk is based on its vividness and emotional impact rather than on its actual probability. Our results also confirm the crucial role of strategic risk considerations (analogous to risk dominance for one shot games) in determining the effects of leniency programs. Indeed, we show that the effectiveness of leniency programs in deterring cartels is mostly due to the increased risk of a cartel member being cheated upon when entering a collusive agreement, while the risk of a cartel being detected by an autonomous investigation of the Authority seems to play a less important role.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Keywords: Collusion, Leniency, Experiments, Risk Aversion, Availability Heuristic, Strategic Risk
JEL Classification: C92, D43, D81
Date posted: May 20, 2008
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