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Judicial Errors and Crime Deterrence: Theory and Experimental Evidence

Matteo Rizzolli and Luca Stanca ()

No 170, Working Papers from University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics

Abstract: The standard economic theory of crime deterrence predicts that the conviction of an innocent (type-I error) is as detrimental to deterrence as the acquittal of a guilty individual (type-II error). In this paper, we qualify this result theoretically, showing that in the presence of risk aversion, loss-aversion, or differential sensitivity to procedural fairness, type-I errors can have a larger effect on deterrence than type-II errors. We test these predictions with an experiment where participants make a decision on whether to steal from other individuals, being subject to different probabilities of judicial errors. The results indicate that both types of judicial errors have a large and significant impact on deterrence, but these effects are not symmetric. An increase in the probability of type-I errors has a larger negative impact on deterrence than an equivalent increase in the probability of type-II errors. This asymmetry is largely explained by risk aversion and, to a lesser extent, type-I error aversion.

Keywords: Judicial errors; criminal procedure; procedural fairness; experimental economics; law and economics; crime; deterrence (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 K14 K41 K42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe and nep-exp
Date: 2009-08, Revised 2009-08
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2) Track citations by RSS feed

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http://repec.dems.unimib.it/repec/pdf/mibwpaper170.pdf First version, 2009 (application/pdf)

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Journal Article: Judicial Errors and Crime Deterrence: Theory and Experimental Evidence (2012) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:mib:wpaper:170

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