Thompson Rivers University

Deterrence: Increased Enforcement or Harsher Penalties?

July 21, 2012

Office ThiefProfessor Derek Pyne from the Department of Economics at Thompson Rivers University has his paper entitled “Deterrence: Increased Enforcement versus Harsher Penalties” accepted for publication in the high quality journal: Economic Letters. Economic Letters is an A ranked journal according to the Australian ABCD Business Deans’ journal ranking database. Sounds like intriguing research on the economics of crime. Empirical studies have found that enforcement, by increasing the probability of punishment, has a greater impact on reducing crime than imposing harsher penalties. Derek provides an alternative explanation as to what is driving this result than reasons such as criminals are risk lovers. According to him the result can be explained as a result of criminals being unsure about their criminal ability! He states: “As criminals commit crimes, they update their estimated ability, based on their success rate”. Although increased penalties reduces crime it does nothing to provide information to criminals on their ability to be successful. But increasing enforcement not only leads to reduce crime but it also leads some criminals to reduce their estimated ability, leading to reduced re-offending.

Derek’s work could provide valuable insights to world politics, and even to deterring students from cheating!

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