Uncertainty and Deterrence: Experimental Evidence
University of California, Santa Barbara - Department of Economics
Gregory J. DeAngelo
West Virginia University - Department of Economics
April 2, 2009
We conduct laboratory experiments to investigate the effects of deterrence mechanisms under controlled conditions. The effect of the expected cost of punishment of an individual's decision to engage in a proscribed activity and the effect of uncertainty on an individual's decision to commit a violation are very difficult to observe in field data. We use a roadway speeding framing and find that (a) individuals respond considerably to increases in the expected cost of speeding, (b) uncertainty about the enforcement regime yields a large reduction in violations committed, and (c) people are much more likely to speed when the punishment regime for which they voted is implemented. Our results have important implications for a behavioral theory of deterrence under uncertainty.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: Deterrence, Experiment, Uncertainty, Crime and Punishment
JEL Classification: C91, D03, D81, K42
Date posted: April 3, 2009 ; Last revised: June 14, 2010
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