Unexpected Effects of Expected Sanctions

38 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2021 Last revised: 28 Jun 2021

See all articles by Giuseppe Dari‐Mattiacci

Giuseppe Dari‐Mattiacci

University of Amsterdam; Tinbergen Institute; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Alex Raskolnikov

Columbia University - Law School

Date Written: January 15, 2021


The economic analysis of law enforcement holds that greater expected sanctions lead to greater compliance. The literature on positive and negative incentives holds that rewards and sanctions—or carrots and sticks—have identical first-order incentive effects. We extend the basic model of law enforcement in three ways. We allow agents to opt out of the regulatory regime, we allow for enforcement errors, and we model agents who vary in at least one trait in addition to their cost of compliance. We show that following these three realistic modifications of the basic model, the two fundamental conclusions just described do not hold. Greater expected sanctions do not necessarily lead to greater compliance; carrots and sticks are not substitutes in their incentive effects. We also show that adding taxes and subsidies to the regulatory toolkit does not expand the set of achievable outcomes.

Keywords: deterrence, chilling, compliance, participation, accuracy, sanctions, rewards, carrots, sticks.

JEL Classification: K10, K20, K42

Suggested Citation

Dari-Mattiacci, Giuseppe and Raskolnikov, Alex, Unexpected Effects of Expected Sanctions (January 15, 2021). Journal of Legal Studies, forthcoming, Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2021-02, Columbia Law and Economics Working Paper No. 639, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3766707

Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Postbus 15654
1001 ND
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland 1001 ND

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

Alex Raskolnikov

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

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