Liability Rules: An Economic Taxonomy

29 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2013 Last revised: 13 Feb 2014

See all articles by Giuseppe Dari‐Mattiacci

Giuseppe Dari‐Mattiacci

Columbia University - Law School

Francesco Parisi

University of Minnesota - Law School; University of Bologna

Date Written: February 7, 2013


The analysis of tort law is one of the most well-developed applications of economic methodology in the study of law. In this essay, we provide an overview of the economic approach to tort law, analyzing the effects of liability rules on care incentives. We catalogue a variety of possible tort regimes, systematically breaking down possible assignments of liability in terms of primary and secondary rules, and describe how their permutations distribute the costs of accidents (and the concomitant incentives to exercise precautionary care). We further consider what factual circumstances may render one tort regime preferable to another from the perspective of policymakers.

Keywords: economics of tort law, economics of accident law, taxonomy of tort law rules, literature of tort law and economics, tort liability

JEL Classification: K13

Suggested Citation

Dari-Mattiacci, Giuseppe and Parisi, Francesco, Liability Rules: An Economic Taxonomy (February 7, 2013). Dari-Mattiacci, Giuseppe and Parisi, Francesco, ‘Liability Rules: An Economic Taxonomy,’ in Mauro Bussani and Anthony Sebok (eds.), Comparative Tort Law, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar (Forthcoming); Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2013-09; Amsterdam Center for Law & Economics Working Paper No. 2013-01. Available at SSRN:

Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States


Francesco Parisi

University of Minnesota - Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

University of Bologna ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 1
40126 Bologna, fc 47100

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