Advertisement

Journal of Economics

, Volume 113, Issue 1, pp 79–95 | Cite as

Regulating harmless activity to fight crime

  • Florian BaumannEmail author
  • Tim Friehe
Article

Abstract

This paper establishes that regulating harmless activity can be an effective instrument of law enforcement when the harmless activity and the harmful activity are interdependent. This type of regulation is not without cost, as it distorts the individual choices made by both law-abiding and non-law-abiding individuals. However, it can be socially advantageous when the impact on welfare resulting from changes in the choices of offenders dominates the impact of changes in non-offenders’ decisions; in addition, increasing deterrence by other means (such as raising the probability of detection or the magnitude of sanctions) can incur much higher costs.

Keywords

Optimal law enforcement Legal activity Substitutes Complements 

JEL Classification

K42 H23 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful for the very helpful suggestions provided by two anonymous reviewers.

References

  1. Atkinson AB, Stiglitz JE (1976) The design of tax structure: direct versus indirect taxation. J. Publ. Econ 6:55–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bac M (2010) The interaction between potential criminals’ and victims’ demands for guns. J Publ Econ 94:337–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carpenter C, Dobkin C (2011) Alcohol regulation and crime. In: Cook P, Ludwig J, McCrary J (eds), Controlling crime: strategies and tradeoffs. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  4. Cole D (2008) Terror financing, guilt by association and the paradigm of prevention in the ‘war on terror’. In: Bianchi A, Leller A (eds) Counterterrorism: democracy’s challenge. Hart Publishing, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  5. Cook PJ, Durrance CP (2011) The virtuous tax: lifesaving and crime-prevention effects of the 1991 federal alcohol-tax increase. NBER Working Paper 17709Google Scholar
  6. Cook PJ, Ludwig J (2011) The economist’s guide to crime busting. Wilson Quart 35:62–66Google Scholar
  7. Cooter R (1984) Prices and sanctions. Columbia Law Rev 84:1523–1560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Corlett WJ, Hague DC (1953) Complementarity and the excess burden of taxation. Rev Econ Stud 21:21–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ehrlich I (1973) Participation in illegitimate activities: a theoretical and empirical investigation. J Polit Econ 81:521–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Elster J (1989) The cement of society, 6th edn. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Evans TD, Cullen FT, Burton VS Jr, Dunaway RG, Payne GL, Kethineni SR (1996) Religion, social bonds, and deliquency. Deviant Behav 17:43–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Innes R (2001) Violator avoidance activities and self-reporting in optimal law enforcement. J Law Econ Org 17:239–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kaplow L (2010) Taxing leisure complements. Econ Inq 48:1065–1071CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kaplow L, Shavell S (2007) Moral rules, the moral sentiments, and behavior: toward a theory of an optimal moral system. J Polit Econ 115:494–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kennedy DM (2010) Deterrence and crime prevention: reconsidering the prospect of sanction. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Kleiman M (2009) When brute force fails. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  17. Langlais E (2008) Detection avoidance and deterrence: some paradoxical arithmetic. J Publ Econ Theory 10:371–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. MacDonald Z (2004) What price drug use? The contribution of economics to an evidence-based drugs policy. J Econ Surv 18:113–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Malik AS (1990) Avoidance, screening, and optimum enforcement. Rand J Econ 21:341–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mialon HM, Wiseman T (2005) The impact of gun laws: a model of crime and self-defense. Econ Lett 88:170–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nussim J, Tabbach A (2008) Controlling avoidance: ex-ante v. ex-post punishment. Rev Law Econ 4:45–63Google Scholar
  22. Nussim J, Tabbach A (2009) Deterrence and avoidance. Intern Rev Law Econ 29:314–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pettersson T (1991) Religion and criminality: structural relationships between church involvement and crime rates in contemporary Sweden. J Sci Study Relig 30:279–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pigou AC (1920) The economics of welfare. Macmillan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  25. Polinsky AM, Shavell S (2007) The theory of public enforcement of law. In: Polinsky AM, Shavell S (eds) Handbook of law and economics 1. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  26. Rees DI, Schnepel KT (2009) College football games and crime. J Sports Econ 10:68–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Samuelson PA (1954) The pure theory of public expenditure. Rev Econ Stat 36:387–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Shavell S (2002) Law versus morality as regulators of conduct. Am Law Econ Rev 4:227–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Shavell S (2004) Foundations of economic analysis of law. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  30. Tabbach A (2010) The social desirability of punishment avoidance. J Law Econ Org 27:265–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Usher D (1997) Education as a deterrent to crime. Can J Econ 30:367–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Düsseldorf Institute of Competition EconomicsUniversity of DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany
  2. 2.Center for Advanced Studies in Law and EconomicsUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  3. 3.CESifoMunichGermany

Personalised recommendations