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American Economic Association


Although many criminal choice problems may be viewed within an expanded labor choice framework, care must be exercised if these problems are to be interpreted in terms of strictly monetary costs and benefits. We show below that by not fully specifying their choice problems, and therefore the transformation between what is inherently a multiattribute decision problem and the wealth-only problem, Becker, Ehrlich, and Sjoquist are led to conclusions which are valid only in very special cases. In general, we show that plausible preference restrictions are not sufficient to generate unambiguous supply results, a result that should come as no surprise since it is the same situation that confronts the investigator in most household allocation problems. Therefore, policy prescriptions in this area, as in the tax incentive area, do not follow from theory but rather require empirical determination of relative magnitudes.


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