This course applies the tools of microeconomic analysis to private (i.e., civil) law. This analysis has both positive and normative aspects. The positive aspects deal with how individuals respond to the incentives created by the legal system. Examples include: how intellectual property law encourages the creation of knowledge while simultaneously restricting the dissemination of intellectual property; how tort law motivates doctors to avoid malpractice suits; and how contract law facilitates agreements. The normative aspects of the analysis ask whether legal rules enhance economic efficiency (or, more broadly, social welfare). Examples include: what legal rules are most appropriate for mitigating pollution, ensuring safe driving, and guaranteeing workplace safety? The course will also cover the economics of legal systems; for example, what are the incentives for plaintiffs to initiate lawsuits and what role do lawyers play in determining outcomes. The course will also consider potential reforms of the legal system.
The Class: Type: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on class participation, problem sets, short papers based on actual court cases and possible legal reforms, a midterm exam, and a final exam
Prerequisites: ECON 110
Enrollment Preference: Open; prefer a mix of student backgrounds
Distributions: Division II; Quantative/Formal Reasoning;
Attributes: POEC U.S. Political Economy + Public Policy Course;