The Economics of Shame: Why More Shaming may Deter Less

Authors: 
Alon Harel and Alon Klement
Abstract: 

This paper investigates the effectiveness of shaming penalties. It establishes that there may be an inverse relation between the rate of shaming penalties and their deterrent effects - the more people are shamed the less deterring shaming penalties become. This conclusion is based on a search model in which the costs of searching for law-abiding partners increase with the rate of shaming, and may lead to lower expected sanction for offenders. The inverse relation between the rate of shaming penalties and their effectiveness is later used to show that increasing the probability of detection, increasing the magnitude of shaming penalties or reducing the number of wrongful acquittals does not necessarily increase the deterrent effects of shaming penalties (and may, in fact, decrease these effects).

Date: 
August, 2005
Published in: 
Number: 
401