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

See all articles by Josef Montag

Josef Montag

Charles University, Faculty of Law - Department of Economics

James Tremewan

University of Auckland - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 20, 2016

Abstract

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

Montag, Josef and Tremewan, James, Let the Punishment Fit the Criminal: An Experimental Study (September 20, 2016). ISE Working Paper No. 3. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2816489 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2816489

Josef Montag (Contact Author)

Charles University, Faculty of Law - Department of Economics ( email )

nam. Curieovych 7
Prague 1, 11640
Czech Republic

James Tremewan

University of Auckland - Department of Economics ( email )

Auckland
New Zealand

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