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The Economics of Shame: Why more Shaming may Deter Less

27 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2005  

Alon Harel

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law

Alon Klement

Buchman Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University

Date Written: August 24, 2005

Abstract

This paper investigates the effectiveness of shaming penalties. It establishes that there may be an inverse relation between the rate of shaming penalties and their deterrent effects - the more people are shamed the less deterring shaming penalties become. This conclusion is based on a search model in which the costs of searching for law-abiding partners increase with the rate of shaming, and may lead to lower expected sanction for offenders. The inverse relation between the rate of shaming penalties and their effectiveness is later used to show that increasing the probability of detection, increasing the magnitude of shaming penalties or reducing the number of wrongful acquittals does not necessarily increase the deterrent effects of shaming penalties (and may, in fact, decrease these effects).

Keywords: Shaming, stigma, criminal law, social norms, deterrence, search

JEL Classification: D83, K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Harel, Alon and Klement, Alon, The Economics of Shame: Why more Shaming may Deter Less (August 24, 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=789244 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.789244

Alon Harel

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Scopus, 91905
Israel
97 22 588 2582 (Phone)
97 22 582 3042 (Fax)

Alon Klement (Contact Author)

Buchman Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University ( email )

Tel Aviv
Israel

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