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Buckling Under Pressure: An Empirical Test of the Expressive Effects of Law

51 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2011 Last revised: 28 Jun 2011

Maggie Wittlin

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Law

Date Written: February 11, 2011

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Wittlin, Maggie, Buckling Under Pressure: An Empirical Test of the Expressive Effects of Law (February 11, 2011). Yale Journal on Regulation, Vol. 28, No. 2, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1759993

Maggie Wittlin (Contact Author)

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Law ( email )

103 McCollum Hall
P.O. Box 830902
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
United States

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