Search the Site

How Will Rio's Arrest Bounty Play Out?

(Photo: Jorge Andrade)

An interesting e-mail from a reader:

Hello. My name is Thiago, and I am writing from Brazil. I always read freakonomics posts thru my rss reader and I saw a news today that inspired me to write to you.
Rio de Janeiro’s  police started a new policy to incentivize cops to arrest the most wanted drug dealers. The prize: 15 days off and one weekend in a beautiful island at Angra dos Reis with all costs included.

I wondered if this incentive will have a positive effect, whereas there are bad cops who are bribed by drug dealers. What if these bad officers began to been rewarded by drug dealer with tickets to Disney instead of arrest them?
Think about it…

Yes, Thiago, we will think about it! In fact, we’re currently working on a podcast about this very type of unintended consequences — a bounty boomerang, you might call it.