Optimal Sanctions When the Probability of Apprehension Varies Among Individuals

13 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2007 Last revised: 25 Aug 2010

See all articles by Lucian A. Bebchuk

Lucian A. Bebchuk

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

Louis Kaplow

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

Date Written: May 1992

Abstract

This paper explores how optimal enforcement is affected by the fact that not all individuals are equally easy to apprehend. When the probability of apprehension is the same for all individuals, optimal sanctions will be maximal: as Gary Becker (1968) suggested, raising sanctions and reducing the probability of apprehension saves enforcement resources. This argument necessarily holds only when the enforcement authority knows how difficult an individual will be to apprehend before expending any investigative resources. When differences among individuals exist and can be observed only after apprehension, or not at all, optimal enforcement may involve less than maximal sanctions.

Suggested Citation

Bebchuk, Lucian A. and Kaplow, Louis, Optimal Sanctions When the Probability of Apprehension Varies Among Individuals (May 1992). NBER Working Paper No. w4078. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=476181

Lucian A. Bebchuk (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/bebchuk/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Louis Kaplow

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts Avenue
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United States
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617-496-4880 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/facdir.php?id=32&show=bibliography

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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