Crime and punishment and corruption: Who needs "untouchables?"

Emilson C.D. Silva, Charles M. Kahn, Zhu Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Becker's result that fines should be maximized is also applicable to some social environments where law enforcers are corrupt. If the regulated activity is legal, the principal may efficiently deter crime without an anti-corruption unit. An opportunistic anti-corruption unit, even when corrupt, becomes useful for the principal when the activity is illegal, since the principal's goal of maximizing fines motivates the unit to collect bribes from the enforcer, which subsequently induces the enforcer to be nearly completely honest, minimizing corruption. Therefore, we show that there is not necessarily an infinite regress originating with the puzzle of who polices the police.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-87
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Public Economic Theory
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Finance
  • Sociology and Political Science


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