Rethinking the Economic Model of Deterrence: How Insights from Empirical Social Science Could Affect Policies Towards Crime and Punishment

Review of Law & Economics, 5, 461 (2009)

31 Pages Posted: 2 May 2013 Last revised: 21 Jun 2013

Erik James Girvan

University of Oregon School of Law

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

Game-theoretic models incorporating neo-classical economic assumptions can be a powerful tool for identifying and analyzing issues relevant to legal policy. In this paper I argue that, where those assumptions are deficient, the efficacy of and insights from such models can be improved by incorporating insights from experimental social sciences. Following this paradigm, I propose an expansion of the neo-classical deterrence model of criminal behavior to incorporate, as reputation effects, social scientific theory regarding the effects of in-group norms on behavior. Analysis of the expanded model shows that there are material differences between the classic and expanded models in predictions, the latter of which are more consistent with macro-level observations. I then discuss some substantive implications of the predictions of the expanded model for criminal legal policy.

Keywords: discrimination, criminal law, law and economics, law and society, law and psychology

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Girvan, Erik James, Rethinking the Economic Model of Deterrence: How Insights from Empirical Social Science Could Affect Policies Towards Crime and Punishment (2009). Review of Law & Economics, 5, 461 (2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2258830

Erik James Girvan (Contact Author)

University of Oregon School of Law ( email )

1515 Agate Street
Eugene, OR Oregon 97403
United States
541 346-8934 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.uoregon.edu/faculty/girvan/

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