The Economics of Informal International Law - An Empirical Assessment
32 Pages Posted: 9 May 2011
Date Written: May 8, 2011
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: Suggested Citation