Deterrence: Increased Enforcement versus Harsher Penalties
7 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2015 Last revised: 3 Nov 2016
Date Written: 2012
Empirical studies have found that increasing the probability of punishment has a greater effect on crime than the severity of punishment. This note explains this as the result of criminals having imperfect information on their criminal ability. As they commit crimes, they update their estimates of their ability, based on their success rate. Increased penalties deter crime in the period they are applied but offer criminals no information on their criminal ability. Crime is also deterred during a period of increased enforcement. In addition, increased enforcement leads some criminals to decrease their estimates of their ability, leading to reduced recidivism.
Keywords: Deterrence, Crime, Recidivism
JEL Classification: K4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation