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Setting Standards for Credible Compliance and Law Enforcement

This paper examines the setting of optimal legal standards to simultaneously induce parties to invest in care and to motivate law enforcers to detect violators of the law. The strategic interaction between care providers and law enforcers determines the degree of efficiency achieved by the standards. Our principal finding is that some divergence between the marginal benefits and marginal costs of providing care is required to control enforcement costs. Further, the setting of standards may effectively substitute for the setting of fines when penalties for violation are fixed. In particular, maximal fines may be welfare reducing when standards are set optimally.
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