Public Law and Economics

626 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2022 Last revised: 17 Oct 2022

See all articles by Robert D. Cooter

Robert D. Cooter

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Michael D. Gilbert

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: October 12, 2022


This comprehensive textbook published by Oxford University Press applies economic analysis to public law. The economic analysis of law has revolutionized legal scholarship and teaching in the last half-century, but it has focused mostly on private law, business law, and criminal law. This book extends the analysis to fundamental topics in public law, such as the separation of government powers, regulation by agencies, constitutional rights, and elections. Every public law involves six fundamental processes of government: bargaining, voting, entrenching, delegating, adjudicating, and enforcing. The book devotes two chapters to each process, beginning with the economic theory and then applying the theory to a wide range of puzzles and problems in law. Each chapter concentrates on cases and legal doctrine, showing the relevance of economics to the work of lawyers and judges. Featuring lucid, accessible writing and engaging examples, the book addresses enduring topics in public law as well as modern controversies, including gerrymandering, voter identification laws, and qualified immunity for police.

Note: The book is available for free download under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). For more information, please visit

Keywords: law and economics, constitutional economics, bargaining, voting, entrenchment, delegation, adjudication, enforcement, legislative intent, separation of powers, federalism, intransitivity, political community, stare decisis, transition costs, unconstitutional conditions, campaign finance, textualism

Suggested Citation

Cooter, Robert D. and Gilbert, Michael, Public Law and Economics (October 12, 2022). Oxford University Press (2022), Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper 2022-68, Virginia Law and Economics Research Paper 2022-24, Available at SSRN:

Robert D. Cooter

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-642-0503 (Phone)
510-642-3767 (Fax)

Michael Gilbert (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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