Social Stigma, Heuristics and Criminal Law

19 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2011

See all articles by Laarni Escresa

Laarni Escresa

University of the Philippines, Diliman - School of Economics

Arsen Palestini

MEMOTEF - Sapienza University of Rome

Date Written: December 10, 2010

Abstract

This paper explores under what conditions social stigma exists as an additional sanction in criminal law from a behavioral law and economics perspective. A distinction is made between the court as an institution specialized at discovering and assigning blame and the rest of the society that relies on judgment heuristics in assigning the informal sanction. When the court finds that an individual has violated a particular legal standard, the rest of the society updates their information about the particular personality predisposition of the individual and assigns to him the predispositional type of the set of violators. It is shown that a criminal conviction carries an additional social stigma depending on the legal standard, the population variance, and the beliefs of the society. This happens in a separating equilibrium where the best strategy of each type confirms the beliefs of the rest of society with regards to the set of individual violators. Within this range, it is also shown that the substitutability between the fine and the probability of conviction also depends on the variance which is different from what the Becker model predicts. Thus, while it is the rest of the society that imposes the social sanction, the social planner can influence it indirectly. It shows that the complementarity between law and informal sanction lies on making the act observable to the rest of society and influencing the society's belief function.

Keywords: Stigma, Crime, Law, Behavioral Economics, Institutions

JEL Classification: D02, D03, K10, K14

Suggested Citation

Escresa, Laarni and Palestini, Arsen, Social Stigma, Heuristics and Criminal Law (December 10, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1820023 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1820023

Laarni Escresa

University of the Philippines, Diliman - School of Economics ( email )

Encarnacion Hall
F. M. Guerrero corner S. Osmena Sts
U.P. Diliman, Quezon City
Philippines

Arsen Palestini (Contact Author)

MEMOTEF - Sapienza University of Rome ( email )

Via del Castro Laurenziano
Roma, Rome 00185
Italy

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