pecuniary versus non-pecuniary penalties

Dan Kahan
From The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Second Edition, 2008
Edited by Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume
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‘Pecuniary’ penalties (fines) seem underutilized relative to ‘non-pecuniary’ penalties such as imprisonment, since they are ceteris paribus cheaper for society to impose. But the public preference for imprisonment over fines might reflect the value that the public attaches to the condemnatory meaning that imprisonment, unlike fines, conveys. An economic theory of punishment should include this sensibility in the social welfare calculus used to appraise the efficiency of various forms of punishment. The expressive utility of imprisonment might more than offset the higher cost of imprisoning offenders who could just as effectively be deterred by fines.
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How to cite this article

Kahan, Dan. "pecuniary versus non-pecuniary penalties." The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Second Edition. Eds. Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics Online. Palgrave Macmillan. 13 December 2017 <> doi:10.1057/9780230226203.1264

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