Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=961967
 
 

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Political Economy at Any Speed: What Determines Traffic Citations?


Michael D. Makowsky


Johns Hopkins University - Department of Emergency Medicine, Center for Advanced Modeling in the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences; Hopkins Population Center

Thomas Stratmann


George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

January 31, 2007


Abstract:     
In this paper we study the political economy determinants of traffic fines. Speeding tickets are not only determined by the speed of the offender, but by incentives faced by police officers and their vote maximizing principals. Our model predicts that police officers issue higher fines when drivers have a higher opportunity cost of contesting a ticket, and when drivers do not reside in the community where they are stopped. The model also predicts that local officers are more likely to issue a ticket when legal limits prevent the local government from increasing revenues though other instruments such as property taxes. We find support for the hypotheses. The farther the residence of a driver from the municipality where the ticket could be contested, the higher is the likelihood of a fine and the larger its' amount. The probability of a fine issued by a local officer is higher in towns when constraints on increasing property taxes are binding, the property tax base is lower, and the town is less dependent on revenues from tourism. For state troopers, who are not employed by the local, but rather the state government, we do not find evidence that the likelihood of traffic fines varies with town characteristics. Finally, personal characteristics, such as gender and race, are among the determinants of traffic fines.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 38

Keywords: speeding, traffic fines, local public finance, vote maximizing, revenue maximizing

JEL Classification: H71, C24, D70

working papers series


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Date posted: February 8, 2007 ; Last revised: October 7, 2009

Suggested Citation

Makowsky, Michael D. and Stratmann, Thomas, Political Economy at Any Speed: What Determines Traffic Citations? (January 31, 2007). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=961967 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.961967

Contact Information

Michael D. Makowsky (Contact Author)
Johns Hopkins University - Department of Emergency Medicine, Center for Advanced Modeling in the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences ( email )
Davis Building, Suite 3220
5801 Smith Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21209
United States
Hopkins Population Center ( email )
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States
Thomas Stratmann
George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy ( email )
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-2330 (Phone)
CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)
Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany
Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )
124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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