The Dynamics of Neighborhood Watch and Norm Enforcement

IEW Working Paper No. 199

20 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2004

See all articles by Steffen Huck

Steffen Huck

University College London - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Michael Kosfeld

Goethe University Frankfurt; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); University of Bonn - Center for Development Research (ZEF)

Date Written: July 2004

Abstract

We analyze the dynamics of neighborhood watch programs in a local interaction framework. Agents can watch their neighbors' houses and, thus, deter burglars from breaking in. At the same time, agents also try to recruit their neighbors to join the neighborhood watch program. The probability of an agent joining the neighborhood watch program depends on the success of the program, i.e., whether burglaries continue to occur. We show that the punishment of burglars plays a dual role in this context. On the one hand, punishment deters burglaries if the level of punishment is sufficiently high. On the other hand, it also affects the probability of an agent joining the neighborhood watch program. In particular, we show that if recruitment is harder when burglaries do not occur, a legal policy attempting to improve deterrence using more severe punishment is suboptimal. In a second part, we extend our model to the study of norm enforcement in public goods dilemmas and show that our results remain valid if agents can punish each other (instead of burglars) for not contributing to the public good. Our paper, thus, provides a first analysis of the evolution of altruistic punishment in large populations with local interaction.

Keywords: Neighborhood watch, norm enforcement, cooperation, punishment

JEL Classification: C72, K42

Suggested Citation

Huck, Steffen and Kosfeld, Michael, The Dynamics of Neighborhood Watch and Norm Enforcement (July 2004). IEW Working Paper No. 199. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=574964 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.574964

Steffen Huck

University College London - Department of Economics ( email )

Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
+44 207 679 5895 (Phone)
+44 207 916 2774 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctpshu/

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Michael Kosfeld (Contact Author)

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Faculty of Economics and Business Administration
Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 4
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

University of Bonn - Center for Development Research (ZEF) ( email )

Walter-Flex-Str. 3
Bonn, NRW 53113
Germany

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