The Economic Approach to Law

The Economic Approach to Law

The Economic Approach to Law

The Economic Approach to Law


Designed specifically for economics students, The Economic Approach to Law, 2nd Edition, provides an introductory treatment of law and economics, revealing how economic principles explain the structure of the law, and how they can help make the law more efficient. To that end, the author focuses on unifying themes in the field- rather than exhaustively covering legal topics- and thus provides a more analytical treatment of the subject.

The second edition includes current research into the economics of common law areas, such as torts, contracts, and property law. The revised text also offers a new chapter that explores how economics can be applied to anti-trust law, as well as added material on intellectual property. This edition features an expanded suite of exercises and problems at the end of each chapter to encourage students to "do" law and economics.

A companion web site offers a full suite of resources for students and professors. Key pedagogical features include cases; discussion points that provide additional analysis of topics in the book; graduate notes, which deepen the text for more advanced readers; and relevant Web links. Professors have access to sample syllabi for undergraduate and graduate courses and to an instructor's manual providing suggested answers to all of the end-of-chapter questions/problems in the book.


The field of law and economics, though relatively new, is a rapidly growing area of specialization, for both legal scholars and economists. Courses in law and economics are now offered in most law schools and economics departments, although a course directed at law students would be taught quite differently from one directed at undergraduate economics majors. This book is primarily aimed at the latter audience. As such, it presumes a basic familiarity with principles of microeconomics. The book does not, however, presume any knowledge of the law, nor is its objective to teach students about the law so they can decide whether or not to go to law school (though this may be a by-product). Rather, the objective is to show students how they can apply the tools of economic analysis to understand the basic structure and function of the law. This objective is reflected in my decision to title the book The Economic Approach to Law, rather than the customary Law and Economics, which might suggest more of a legal orientation.

Since the book is not, first and foremost, about the law, it does not attempt an exhaustive coverage of legal topics. Rather, it tries to tell a coherent “story” about the law. To this end, it focuses on the core common law areas of torts, contracts, and property, along with a discussion of the litigation process, the economics of crime, and antitrust law. I have chosen these areas because (1) they best convey the ability of economic theory to provide a unifying framework for understanding law, and (2) they have received the most attention from economists and therefore reflect the highest level of development of the field. Two areas of law not covered in this book (with some exceptions) are laws written by legislatures (statutory law) and constitutional law. Economists have devoted considerable attention to the analysis of legislative law, and an economic analysis of constitutional law is emerging. Although both of these areas fall broadly under the umbrella of law and economics, they raise a different set of conceptual issues that are best treated in separate courses.

The primary subject of this book is instead the common law, by which we mean that body of law arising from judicial decisions and the resulting legal . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.