Privatizing Police: Japanese Police, the Korean Massacre, and Private Security Firms

Forthcoming, The Cambridge Handbook on Privatization, Avihay Dorfman & Alon Harel, eds.

Harvard John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics, and Business, Discussion Paper No. 1008

27 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2019

Date Written: June 12, 2019

Abstract

Public security is often a non-excludable public good that involves economies of scale. For these obvious reasons, modern democracies provide their residents with basic security services out of the public fisc.

Yet the capacity to protect overlaps with the capacity to prey. As a result, regimes in dysfunctional societies sometimes use the public security apparatus to extract benefits. Sometimes the security services use their resources to extract benefits for themselves.

Public security is also a normal good: the level of security that people demand tends to increase with income. Hence, wealthier citizens often choose to purchase additional levels of security on the market. In democracies, they do this to supplement the security provided through the public police. In dysfunctional societies, they do this in part to protect themselves from the public police.

I illustrate several of these simple principles with examples from Japan: the development of the modern police force, the Korean massacre after the 1923 earthquake, and the development of modern private security firms.

Keywords: privatization, police, security services

JEL Classification: K14, K23, L32, L33, L51

Suggested Citation

Ramseyer, J. Mark, Privatizing Police: Japanese Police, the Korean Massacre, and Private Security Firms (June 12, 2019). Harvard John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics, and Business, Discussion Paper No. 1008 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3402724 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3402724

J. Mark Ramseyer (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-4878 (Phone)
617-496-6118 (Fax)

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