Analyzing the Relationships between Individual Criminal Behavior and Severity and Probability of Punishment

Dahlbäck, Olof
August 1998
Quality & Quantity;Aug98, Vol. 32 Issue 3, p257
Academic Journal
This paper deals with problems encountered in analyzing how an individual is deterred from committing a crime by the severity and probability of punishment. It is argued that it might be advantageous to base such an analysis on a model of maximization of expected utility. According to this model, the attractiveness of committing a crime is strongly affected by the product of the relative utility of committing the crime and being punished as compared with the utility of not committing the crime times the probability of the punishment. This implies that the bivariate linear relationships of choices to commit or not to commit crime and the severity and probability factors are dependent on the variations in both these factors and their mean values. In this paper, these bivariate relationships are analyzed in two ways - formally-algebraically and by numerical examples.


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