Let the Punishment Fit the Criminal: An Experimental Study
ISE Working Paper No. 3
39 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2016 Last revised: 22 Jun 2017
Date Written: September 20, 2016
We use a laboratory experiment to study the extent to which people tailor levels of punishment to the subjective experience of the person to receive that punishment, for both monetary and non-monetary sanctions. We find that subjects tend to apply higher fines to wealthier individuals. Additionally, subjects assign more repetitions of a tedious task to those with a lower willingness-to-pay to avoid it. We find no evidence that the distributions of monetary and non-monetary punishments are different when considered as proportions of the maximum possible punishment, but that this does not hold when non-monetary punishments are converted into monetary equivalents. This suggests that subjects do not have in mind a particular level of disutility from the punishment, but rather are guided by the sentencing possibilities.
Keywords: monetary punishment, non-monetary punishment, subjective determinants, laboratory experiment
JEL Classification: C91, D03, K14, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation