CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Buckenmaier on Timing and Uncertainty of Punishment

Johannes BuckenmaierEugen DimantAnn-Christin Posten and Ulrich Schmidt (University of Zurich - Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Behavioral Ethics Lab, Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and University of Kiel - Institute of Economics) have posted Efficient Institutions and Effective Deterrence: On Timing and Uncertainty of Punishment on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This paper presents the first controlled economic experiment to study celerity, i.e. the effectiveness of swiftness of punishment in reducing illicit behavior. We consider two dimensions: timing of punishment and timing of the resolution of uncertainty regarding the punishment. We find a surprising u-shaped relation between deterrence and the delays of punishment and uncertainty resolution. Institutions that either reveal detection and impose punishment immediately or maintain uncertainty about the state of detection and impose punishment sufficiently late are equally effective at deterring illicit behavior. Our results yield strong implications for the design of institutional policies to mitigate misconduct and reduce recidivism.

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