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Public Choice and Tort Reform

22 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2004  

Paul H. Rubin

Emory University - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 12, 2004


It was originally thought that the structure of the common law would not allow rent seeking. More recently, scholars have realized that there is room for rent seeking, and that attorneys are engaged in exactly this process. This rent seeking has led to a great increase in the scope of U.S. tort law, and a corresponding effort to limit the scope of the law. This creates an ideal system for students of public choice. There are organized interest groups on both sides (attorneys, businesses and doctors) which are both coalitions themselves and members of broader coalitions. Each side has numerous tools available for advancing its agenda, such as litigating and lobbying for favorable rules, and attempting to elect preferred representatives and judges. There is ample comparative data available at the state level and also roll call votes at the federal level useful for studying these issues. This is an important and interesting area for future research.

Keywords: Product liability, tort reform, public choice, federalism

JEL Classification: H10, K00, K13

Suggested Citation

Rubin, Paul H., Public Choice and Tort Reform (August 12, 2004). Emory Law and Economics Research Paper No. 04-09; Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 04-7. Available at SSRN: or

Paul H. Rubin (Contact Author)

Emory University - Department of Economics ( email )

1602 Fishburne Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
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630-604-9609 (Fax)


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