Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/85010
Authors: 
Chmura, Thorsten
Engel, Christoph
Englerth, Markus
Year of Publication: 
2013
Series/Report no.: 
Preprints of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013/5
Abstract: 
For a rational choice theorist, the absence of crime is more difficult to explain than its presence. Arguably, the expected value of criminal sanctions, i.e. the product of severity times certainty, is often below the expected benefit. We rely on a standard theory from behavioral economics, inequity aversion, to offer an explanation. This theory could also explain how imperfect criminal sanctions deter crime. The critical component of the theory is aversion against outperforming others. To test this theory, we exploit that it posits inequity aversion to be a personality trait. We can therefore test it in a very simple standard game. Inequity averse individuals give a fraction of their endowment to another anonymous, unendowed participant. We have prisoners play this game, and compare results to findings from a meta-study of more than 100 dictator games with non-prisoners. Surprisingly, results do not differ, not even if we only compare with other dictator games among close-knit groups. To exclude social proximity as an explanation, we retest prisoners on a second dictator game where the recipient is a charity. Prisoners give more, not less.
Subjects: 
Inequity aversion
crime
dictator game
selfishness
imperfect sanctions
social proximity
charity
JEL: 
C93
D63
C91
A12
D03
K14
Document Type: 
Working Paper

Files in This Item:
File
Size





Items in EconStor are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.