I’m going to give (slightly different versions of) my “Deterrence Dynamics” talk (joint work with Beau Kilmer of RAND) twice next week at UCLA. Monday at noon I’ll be speaking to the Behavior, Evolution, and Culture seminar. Friday at 1pm is the Marschak Colloquium, in room C-301 of the Anderson School. The Marschak talk is open to all; if you want to come on Monday, please send me an email.
It’s easily my best paper ever, and the ideas lie at the core of my new book (just finished the manuscript on Friday) When Brute Force Fails: Strategy for Crime Control. The basic concept has implications for managing firms, classrooms, and families, for regulatory enforcement, and for tax collection.
Here’s the abstract:
Because punishment is scarce, costly, and painful, optimal enforcement strategies will minimize the amount of actual punishment required to effectuate deterrence. If potential offenders are deterrable, increasing the conditional probability of punishment (given violation) can reduce the amount of punishment actually inflicted, by “tipping” a situation from its high-violation equilibrium to its low-violation equilibrium. Compared to random or “equal opportunity” enforcement, dynamically concentrated sanctions can reduce the punishment level necessary to tip the system. Game theory and some simple and robust Monte Carlo simulations demonstrate these results.