Law and Economics

90-791

Units: 12

Description: This course will provide a broad overview of the scholarly field known as “Law and Economics.” We will introduce principles of positive and normative microeconomics to explore the extent to which they can explain the workings of the legal system and to examine the effect of legal rules on behavior to correct market failures. We will discuss the economic function of contracts and, when contracts fail or are not feasible, the role of legal remedies to resolve disputes; we also will discuss the choice between encouraging private parties to initiate legal actions to correct externalities and governmental actors, such as regulatory authorities. Covered topics include the Coase Theorem; the choice between property, liability, and inalienability rules; comparative liability rules (e.g., negligence versus strict liability); contractual damages; criminal liability; family law; game theory; and legal decision theory (e.g., risk, uncertainty). No prior acquaintance with economics, mathematics, or psychology is necessary.

Learning Outcomes: This course has three objectives. First, you will learn how to engage critically academic papers within the fields of economics and law. Second, you will acquire the skills to analyze and assess the role that incentives embedded within laws can play in reaching socially desirable outcomes. Third, you will develop the ability to formulate and draft a substantial research paper that advances a normative thesis within the area of Law and Economics.