Arnold Kling

Moore's Law and the Economics of Crime

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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One theme of the economics of crime is that the deterrent effect of laws depends on the probability of enforcement. In The Trackable Society, I argue that improvements in technology could raise the probability of getting caught committing minor crimes, such as speeding.

In theory, perfect enforcement of speed limits would cause everyone to obey the speed limit. But that would be such a radical development that I doubt that it is desirable. If speeding is widespread, it is very likely that it is efficient from both the individual and social perspective. In fact, we probably want the vast majority of speeding violations to be overlooked.

Discussion Question. There is much popular resistance to using surveillance technology to enforce laws. How much of that resistance is due to the fact that the laws themselves are too intrusive?

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