Libertarian Paternalism, Path Dependence, and Temporary Law

69 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2013 Last revised: 2 Jan 2016

Tom Ginsburg

University of Chicago Law School

Jonathan S. Masur

University of Chicago - Law School

Richard H. McAdams

University of Chicago Law School

Date Written: June 13, 2013

Abstract

The recent wave of behavioral economics has led some theorists to advocate the possibility of “libertarian paternalism,” in which regulators designing institutions permit significant individual choice but nonetheless use default rules to “nudge” cognitively biased individuals toward particular salutary choices. In this article, we add the possibility of a different kind of nudge: temporary law. Temporary law is less intrusive than permanent regulation, and is particularly attractive in situations in which we believe that path dependence has produced the status quo. We illustrate the argument with the example of smoking bans, and provide an empirical case study of an actual temporary smoking ban in Champaign, Illinois.

Suggested Citation

Ginsburg, Tom and Masur, Jonathan S. and McAdams, Richard H., Libertarian Paternalism, Path Dependence, and Temporary Law (June 13, 2013). University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 81, pp. 291-359 (2014); University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 645; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 431. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2278992

Tom Ginsburg (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Jonathan S. Masur

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773.702.5188 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/masur/

Richard H. McAdams

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-2520 (Phone)

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