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Economic Analysis of the General Structure of the Law


Steven Shavell


Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

February 2003

Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 408

Abstract:     
This paper contains a chapter on the general structure of the law from a forthcoming book, Foundations of Economic Analysis of Law (Harvard University Press, 2003). In this chapter, I consider basic features of the legal system, including whether the law directly constrains behavior or channels it by the threat of sanctions, and whether the law is brought into play by private legal action or involves public enforcement. I investigate the conditions under which one or another structure of law will be socially desirable, and I then discuss tort, contract, criminal law, and several other areas of law in the light of the analysis of the optimal structure of the law.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

JEL Classification: D00, D6, D8, K00, H00

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Date posted: February 26, 2003  

Suggested Citation

Shavell, Steven, Economic Analysis of the General Structure of the Law (February 2003). Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 408. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=383443 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.383443

Contact Information

Steven Shavell (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3668 (Phone)
617-496-2256 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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