Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Why Can’t Death Penalty Stop Crime?

Choi, Hak (2023): Why Can’t Death Penalty Stop Crime?

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Economists advocate penalty to raise the demand price for a crime. Then, a higher penalty should mean less crime quantity demanded, while death penalty should eliminate the whole demand. This paper uses red-light running as an example of crime, to explain why such theory fails. It fails, because red light is a setup. When it is a setup, its purpose is to capture and penalize violation, not to eliminate violation. The pursuit of penalty revenue further explains why higher penalty comes with higher crime rate. This paper concludes that people do not demand red light or crime. Instead, they demand traffic, in order to sell their bread. That is why even death penalty can’t stop crime, if selling bread or crossing road is a crime.

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