The Fairness of Sanctions: Some Implications for Optimal Enforcement Policy

Posted: 7 Jul 2000

See all articles by A. Mitchell Polinsky

A. Mitchell Polinsky

Stanford Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Steven Shavell

Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Abstract

In this article we incorporate notions of the fairness of sanctions into the standard model of public enforcement. When both the probability and magnitude of sanctions may be varied, the usual solution involves a very high sanction and a relatively low probability of enforcement if individuals are risk neutral. When the issue of fairness is added to the analysis, the optimal sanction generally is not extremely high because such a sanction would be seen as unfair. The optimal probability of imposing sanctions may be higher than in the usual case (to offset the lower sanction) or lower than in the usual case (because the lower sanction reduces the effectiveness of enforcement).

JEL Classification: D74, D79

Suggested Citation

Polinsky, A. Mitchell and Shavell, Steven, The Fairness of Sanctions: Some Implications for Optimal Enforcement Policy. American Law and Economics Review, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 223-237, 2000; Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 167; Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 247. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=205208

A. Mitchell Polinsky (Contact Author)

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Steven Shavell

Harvard Law School ( email )

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