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 Last revised: 5 Nov 2019
Date Written: June 12, 2019
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: Suggested Citation