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The Law and Economics of Products Liability


Keith N. Hylton


William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, Boston University; Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law

July 25, 2012

Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 12-39
Boston Univ. School of Law, Law and Economics Research Paper No. 12-39

Abstract:     
This paper presents a largely positive analysis of products liability law, in the sense that it aims to predict the incentive effects and the welfare consequences of the law, with close regard to its specific legal tests and the real-world constraints that impinge on these tests. The other major part of this paper is a normative assessment of the parts of products liability law that should be reformed. In contrast with the prevailing law and economics literature suggesting that products liability law reduces social welfare, I argue that the law probably improves social welfare, though it is in need of reform in several respects.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 52

Keywords: products liability, strict liability, risk utility, consumer expectations, design defect, manufacturing defect, failure to warn

JEL Classification: K00, K13

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Date posted: July 25, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Hylton, Keith N., The Law and Economics of Products Liability (July 25, 2012). Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 12-39; Boston Univ. School of Law, Law and Economics Research Paper No. 12-39. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2117245 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2117245

Contact Information

Keith N. Hylton (Contact Author)
William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, Boston University ( email )
595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-353-8959 (Phone)
Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law ( email )
765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-353-8959 (Phone)
617-353-3077 (Fax)
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