Slices and Lumps: Division and Aggregation in Law and Life (Intro + Ch 1)

Slices and Lumps: Division and Aggregation in Law and Life (University of Chicago Press 2019)

University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 890

U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 727

33 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2019 Last revised: 17 Dec 2019

See all articles by Lee Anne Fennell

Lee Anne Fennell

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: August 21, 2019

Abstract

Human well-being depends on assembling useful lumps and carving out useful slices — from “lumpy goods” like bridges and highways that are valuable only when complete, to resources and assets that become more useful when artfully subdivided. As increasing urbanization and environmental threats raise the stakes for assembling resources and cooperation, emerging forms of unbundling, from jobs to cars to homes to entertainment, have refined the slices in which we produce and consume. Challenges of aggregation and division are ubiquitous, appearing not only in high-profile contexts like eminent domain and the sharing economy, but also in a wide range of collective action and personal decision settings, as well as throughout property, tort, criminal law, and regulatory policy. The book's introductory chapter emphasizes configuration’s significance as a unifying concept and as a promising focus of public and private innovation. It previews the difficulties and opportunities that slicing and lumping present in multiple domains, including personal and public finance, work, consumer markets, housing, cities, and the many areas of law and policy that involve thresholds, cliffs, and bundles.

Chapter One provides a typology and analysis of the many kinds of lumpy goods that appear in markets, law, policy, nature, and everyday life. It explains that a good might be considered lumpy or indivisible either because it is difficult or costly to divide, or because it is much less valuable if divided. Indivisibility presents difficulties when the chunks or increments in which goods are demanded differ from those in which they are supplied. Sometimes assembly of some sort is required in order to have something of value, while in other cases an already assembled lump would be more valuable if split apart. Products, services, conditions, events, personal goals, and laws can be lumpy in these ways. Other dimensions explored include whether a given lump is natural or constructed, whether it represents a lumpy good or a lumpy bad, and whether it is rival or nonrival. The chapter concludes by explaining why lumpiness matters.

Keywords: lumpy goods, single-step goods, nonlinearity, discontinuity, indivisibility, complementarity, nonrival

Suggested Citation

Fennell, Lee Anne, Slices and Lumps: Division and Aggregation in Law and Life (Intro + Ch 1) (August 21, 2019). Slices and Lumps: Division and Aggregation in Law and Life (University of Chicago Press 2019); University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 890; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 727. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3440821

Lee Anne Fennell (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0603 (Phone)

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