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Elected vs appointed public law enforcers

Eric Langlais and Marie Obidzinski

No 2013-35, EconomiX Working Papers from University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX

Abstract: This paper revisits the issue of law enforcement and the design of monetary sanctions when the public law enforcer's incentives depart from those of a benevolent authority, which is the most frequent assumption made in the literature on crime deterrence. We rst consider the case of an elected enforcer. We nd that when the harm generated by offenses is quite small relative to the average private bene ts, equilibrium with weak enforcement/low sanction prevails. Instead, when the harm generated by offenses is high relative to the average private bene ts, it is the equilibrium with strong enforcement/high sanctions that prevails. Therefore, we provide an explanation for the empirical puzzle highlighted by Lin(2007): elected enforcers punish major (minor) crimes more (less) severely than the benevolent social planer. The case of an appointed enforcer prone to rent seeking is also considered. The monetary sanction under rent seeking is closer to the utilitarian level, as compared with the one under election.

Keywords: law enforcement; deterrence; monetary sanctions; punishment; electoral competition; democracy; rent seeking; dictature (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D73 H1 K14 K23 K4 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-cta, nep-hrm, nep-nps, nep-pbe and nep-pol
Date: 2013
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