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Libertarian Welfarism

Russell B. Korobkin

UCLA School of Law

December 8, 2009

California Law Review, Vol. 97, No. 6, 2009
UCLA School of Law, Law-Econ Research Paper No. 09-09

In a series of publications, Cass Sunstein & Richard Thaler, and Colin Camerer et al., have proposed an approach to legal policy that encourages individuals to pursue actions that will maximize their expected utility while not imposing on those individuals' decisional autonomy. In this article, forthcoming in the California Law Review, I contend that this policy approach - which has been called "libertarian paternalism" - implies a complementary approach as well, which I call "libertarian welfarism." Libertarian welfarism relies on the same set of policy tools as does libertarian paternalism but with a different goal: to encourage individuals to act in a way that maximizes social welfare. I show that libertarian welfarism leads to different policy prescriptions than does libertarian paternalism, and I argue that the former approach rests on a stronger normative foundation and is less subject to problems of indeterminacy than the latter.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: behavioral law and economics, libertarian paternalism, asymmetric paternalism

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Date posted: March 17, 2009 ; Last revised: March 22, 2010

Suggested Citation

Korobkin, Russell B., Libertarian Welfarism (December 8, 2009). California Law Review, Vol. 97, No. 6, 2009; UCLA School of Law, Law-Econ Research Paper No. 09-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1361071 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1361071

Contact Information

Russell B. Korobkin (Contact Author)
UCLA School of Law ( email )
385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
310-825-1994 (Phone)
310-206-7010 (Fax)
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