A Note on Optimal Fines When Wealth Varies Among Individuals

9 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2006

See all articles by A. Mitchell Polinsky

A. Mitchell Polinsky

Stanford Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Steven Shavell

Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 1990

Abstract

An important result in the economic theory of enforcement is that, under certain circumstances, it is optimal for a fine to be as high as possible - to equal the entire wealth of individuals. Such a fine allows the probability of detection to be as low as possible, thereby saving enforcement costs. This note shows that when the level of wealth varies among individuals, the optimal fine generally is less than the wealth of the highest wealth individuals, and may well be less than the wealth of most individuals.

Suggested Citation

Polinsky, A. Mitchell and Shavell, Steven, A Note on Optimal Fines When Wealth Varies Among Individuals (January 1990). NBER Working Paper No. w3232. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=468369

A. Mitchell Polinsky (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

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Steven Shavell

Harvard Law School ( email )

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617-496-2256 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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