Crime and Law
The Laws of Lawlessness
Peter Leeson, Journal of Legal Studies, forthcoming
According to conventional wisdom, self-governance cannot facilitate order between the members of different social groups. This is considered doubly true for the members of social groups that are avowed enemies of one another. This paper argues that it can. To investigate my hypothesis, I examine the Anglo-Scottish borderlands in the 16th century. The border people belonged to two separate social groups at constant war with one another. These people pillaged, plundered, and raided one another as a way of life they called "reiving." To regulate this system of inter-group banditry and prevent it from degenerating into chaos, border inhabitants developed a decentralized system of cross-border criminal law called the Leges Marchiarum. These "laws of lawlessness" governed all aspects of cross-border interaction and spawned novel institutions of their enforcement including "days of truce," bonds, "bawling," and "trod." The Leges Marchiarum and its institutions of enforcement created a unique, decentralized legal order that governed inter-group relations between hostiles along the border.
Arrest Avoidance: Law Enforcement and the Price of Cocaine
Beth Freeborn, Journal of Law and Economics, February 2009, Pages 19-40
Contrary to one goal of drug law enforcement, cocaine prices decreased between the years 1986 and 2000. This paper discusses how arrest avoidance behavior may affect cocaine consumer and dealer response to law enforcement. Dealers avoid arrest by making quick and easy sales; thus, pure-gram price is negatively related to dealer enforcement. Consumers avoid arrest by accepting high prices rather than searching for lower prices. Thus, pure-gram price is positively related to consumer enforcement. Because the implications from arrest avoidance conflict with traditional models of how enforcement should affect prices, I also empirically examine the relationship. Using purchase-level data from the Drug Enforcement Administration and legal penalty data, I find a negative, significant relationship between dealer enforcement and pure-gram price and a positive, significant relationship between consumer enforcement and pure-gram price. Both are consistent with the intuition of arrest avoidance.
Income Inequality and Pecuniary Crimes
Luiz Guilherme Scorzafave & Milena Karla Soares, Economics Letters, forthcoming
This paper verifies the relationship between income inequality and pecuniary crimes. The elasticity of pecuniary crimes relative to inequality is 1.46, corroborating previous literature. Other factors important to decrease criminality are expanding job opportunities and a more efficient legal system.
Shoplifting, Monitoring and Price Determination
Gideon Yaniv, Journal of Socio-Economics, forthcoming
Shoplifting is a major crime problem costing American retailers more than $10 billion per year. Surprisingly, despite the evolvement of an extensive theoretical literature on the economics of some major economic crimes, shoplifting has failed to attract economists’ attention. The present paper applies the economic toolbox to this problem, developing a principal-agent type model of shoplifting and shoplifting control. The model examines the customer's decision of whether to shoplift or not as well as the store's profit-maximizing price and monitoring intensity. The paper challenges the conventional wisdom that the observed rise in shoplifting calls for intensified monitoring and higher prices, showing that a rational response to increased shoplifting involves a reduction in both monitoring and prices.
(Nod to Kevin L)
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