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Why Stare Decisis?


  • Luca Anderlini

    (Georgetown University)

  • Leonardo Felli

    (London School of Economics)

  • Alessandro Riboni

    (Ecole Polytechnique)


All Courts rule ex-post, after most economic decisions are sunk. This can generate a time-inconsistency problem. From an ex-ante perspective, Courts will have the ex-post temptation to be excessively lenient. This observation is at the root of the rule of precedent, known as stare decisis. Stare decisis forces Courts to weigh the benefits of leniency towards the current parties against the beneficial effects that tougher decisions have on future ones. We study these dynamics and find that stare decisis guarantees that precedents evolve towards ex-ante efficient decisions, thus alleviating the Courts' time-inconsistency problem. However, the dynamics do not converge to full efficiency. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli & Alessandro Riboni, 2014. "Why Stare Decisis?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 726-738, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:13-137
    DOI: 10.1016/

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli & Giovanni Immordino & Alessandro Riboni, 2013. "Legal Institutions, Innovation, And Growth," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 54, pages 937-956, August.
    2. Nicola Gennaioli & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, 2015. "Optimally vague contracts and the law," Economics Working Papers 1410, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2017.
    3. repec:dau:papers:123456789/7722 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Nicola Gennaioli & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, 2015. "Contract Innovation and Legal Evolution under Imperfect Enforcement," Working Papers 836, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    5. Gennaioli, Nicola & Ponzetto, Giacomo AM, 2015. "Legal Evolution and Contract Evolution under Imperfect Enforcement," CEPR Discussion Papers 10700, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Guerriero, Carmine, 2016. "Endogenous legal traditions," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 49-69.

    More about this item


    Stare decisis; Dynamics of precedents; Time-inconsistency; Case law;

    JEL classification:

    • C79 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Other
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • D89 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Other
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation


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