Behavioral International Law and Economics

65 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2013 Last revised: 20 Aug 2014

See all articles by Anne van Aaken

Anne van Aaken

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Hamburg, Law School

Date Written: October 19, 2013


Whereas the rational choice approach to international law has been widely accepted in legal scholarship and international relations theory, challenges to the rational choice paradigm in economic analysis of international law have hitherto not been systematically explored. Nevertheless, behavioral law and economics and psychology have been successfully applied to national law constellations. Behavioral economic insights have furthermore been used in international relations scholarship under the heading of political psychology but international norms are neglected. Building on all those insights, the article explores the potential and challenges of extending the behavioral law and economics approach to public international law and thus to further refine our understanding of international law. It looks specifically at treaty design problems and compliance questions. This ties in with increased use of empirical research in international law: a clear desideratum for evidence-based international law.

Keywords: International Law, Behavioral Economics, International Relations, Political Psychology

JEL Classification: C9, D7, F02, H4, K33

Suggested Citation

van Aaken, Anne and van Aaken, Anne, Behavioral International Law and Economics (October 19, 2013). Published in: 55 Harvard International Law Journal (2014), pp. 421-481., U. of St. Gallen Law & Economics Working Paper No. 2013-21, Available at SSRN: or

Anne Van Aaken (Contact Author)

University of Hamburg, Law School ( email )

Johnsallee 35
Hamburg, 20148

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113

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