Do Explicit Reasons Make Legal Intervention More Effective? An Experimental Study

41 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2013 Last revised: 31 Mar 2018

See all articles by Christoph Engel

Christoph Engel

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics, Students; Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

Lilia Zhurakhovska

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Duisburg-Essen

Date Written: March 1, 2018

Abstract

When judges or public authorities intervene in citizens’ lives, they normally must give explicit reasons. Justification primarily serves the sense of justice. The law’s subjects want to understand the intervention. But does justification also have a forward-looking effect? Are individuals more likely to change their behavior in the legally desired direction if the intervention is accompanied by explanation? And do authorities correctly anticipate the effect? To answer these questions under controlled conditions, we use a standard tool from experimental economics. We introduce central punishment to a public goods experiment. In the Baseline, authorities are requested to justify punishment decisions, but the reasons are kept confidential. In the Private treatment, only the addressee learns the justification. In the Public treatment, reasons are made public. Whenever reasons are communicated, there is less monetary punishment. Experimental authorities partly substitute words for action. Yet this is only effective, in the sense of mitigating the dilemma, if reasons are made public.

Keywords: justification requirement, governance effect, public good, experiment

JEL Classification: C91, D03, D62, D63, H41, K14, K40

Suggested Citation

Engel, Christoph and Zhurakhovska, Lilia, Do Explicit Reasons Make Legal Intervention More Effective? An Experimental Study (March 1, 2018). MPI Collective Goods Preprint, No. 2013/16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2318424 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2318424

Christoph Engel (Contact Author)

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany
+049 228 914160 (Phone)
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HOME PAGE: http://www.coll.mpg.de/engel.html

University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics

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D-53012 Bonn
Germany

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics, Students ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
PO Box 1738
Rotterdam
Netherlands

Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

Osnabruck, D-49069
Germany

Lilia Zhurakhovska

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
Bonn, 53113
Germany

University of Duisburg-Essen ( email )

Lotharstrasse 1
Duisburg, 47048
Germany

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