The Scope of Criminal Law and Criminal Sanctions: An Economic View and Policy Implications

28 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2008

See all articles by Roger A. Bowles

Roger A. Bowles

University of York - Department of Economics

Michael G. Faure

University of Maastricht - Faculty of Law, Metro; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Law

Nuno Garoupa

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Abstract

This paper considers why some harm-generating activities are controlled by criminal law and criminal sanctions while others are subject to some other mechanism such as civil law, administrative law, regulation or the tax system. It looks at the question from the perspective of the law and economics approach. We seek to identify the comparative benefits of using the criminal law relative to other enforcement mechanisms and more broadly why certain specific behaviours are criminalized. The paper argues that an economic approach emphasizing the relative merits of alternative legal instruments for bringing about harm reduction can provide an explanation for a number of recent legal developments. It argues also that the willingness of legislators to combine the use of sanctions traditionally used in one area of the law with sanctions from other areas is more readily explicable in economic terms than in other terms.

Suggested Citation

Bowles, Roger A. and Faure, Michael G. and Garoupa, Nuno, The Scope of Criminal Law and Criminal Sanctions: An Economic View and Policy Implications. Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 35, Issue 3, pp. 389-416, September 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1218731 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2008.00444.x

Roger A. Bowles (Contact Author)

University of York - Department of Economics ( email )

Heslington
York, YO10 5DD
United Kingdom

Michael G. Faure

University of Maastricht - Faculty of Law, Metro ( email )

PO Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands
+31 - 43 - 388 30 60 (Phone)
+31 - 43 - 325 90 91 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.michaelfaure.be

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Law ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

Nuno Garoupa

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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