The Economics of Informal International Law - An Empirical Assessment

32 Pages Posted: 9 May 2011

See all articles by Stefan Voigt

Stefan Voigt

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law & Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: May 8, 2011

Abstract

Theory about the relevance of soft law abounds; empirical research on the topic does not. This study begins to even out this imbalance by not only developing a number of conjectures based on institutional economics, but also by testing them empirically. Based on all 2,289 soft laws concluded by the United States between 1981 and 2010, I find the following. (1) the number of international agreements increased dramatically between the mid 1990s until around 2006; since then, however, their use has declined almost as dramatically. (2) Around two-thirds of all international agreements concern only three policy areas: the military, science and technology, and aid. (3) More than 90% of all iinternational agreements are conducted bilaterally. (4) Some 40 percent of these agreements are concluded by a non-traditional actor on the U.S. side, i.e., an actor other than the President of the secretary of state.

Keywords: Soft Law, Hard Law, International Agreements, Executive Agreements, Memoranda of Understanding, Case-Zablocki Act, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Transaction Costs

JEL Classification: F53, K33, N40, O19

Suggested Citation

Voigt, Stefan, The Economics of Informal International Law - An Empirical Assessment (May 8, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1835963 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1835963

Stefan Voigt (Contact Author)

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law & Economics ( email )

Johnsallee 35
Hamburg, 20148
Germany
+49-40-428385782 (Phone)
+49-40-428386794 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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