Buckling Under Pressure: An Empirical Test of the Expressive Effects of Law
51 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2011 Last revised: 28 Jun 2011
Date Written: February 11, 2011
Expressive theories of law assert that law has effects on behavior beyond simple deterrence. This Note tests legal expressivism by analyzing how seatbelt use has changed in response to differing state seatbelt laws. This Note separates the effects of the laws themselves from the effects of changing enforcement levels and finds that the laws have a robust effect on seatbelt use, even controlling for convictions or citations issued. Additionally, this Note finds that a highly publicized seatbelt law in one state can affect seatbelt use in other states. These findings support an expressive function of law.
Keywords: legal expressivism, seat belts
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