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Taxes versus Legal Rules as Instruments for Equity: A More Equitable View

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  • Sanchirico, Chris William

Abstract

Most law and economic analysis evaluates legal rules solely on basis of the efficiency criterion, the justification being that distributive goals are best accomplished through the tax code. Within the same framework used to formalize this justification, this paper shows that (1) even in the presence of an optimally redistributive tax, any concern for "equity" dictates that legal rules should deviate from efficient standards in a manner that redistributes toward the less well-off: (2) any showing that differences in taxable attributes such as income or wealth are the dominant components of overall inequality would go only to the direction of the proper equity adjustment to legal rules, not to the fact that some adjustment should be made; and (3) the role of equity adjustments to legal rules is not limited to correcting inequalities arising within the legal system but extends to correcting inequalities arising in other areas of the economy. Copyright 2000 by the University of Chicago.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Legal Studies.

Volume (Year): 29 (2000)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 797-820

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:29:y:2000:i:2:p:797-820

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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Cited by:
  1. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2000. "Found Money? Split-Award Statutes and Settlement of Punitive Damages Cases," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0001, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics, revised Mar 2001.
  2. Garoupa, Nuno & Stephen, Frank, 2003. "A Note on Optimal Law Enforcement with Legal Aid," CEPR Discussion Papers 4113, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Steven Shavell, 2003. "Economic Analysis of Welfare Economics, Morality and the Law," NBER Working Papers 9700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hackney, James Jr., 2003. "Law and neoclassical economics theory: a critical history of the distribution/efficiency debate," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 361-390, September.
  5. Juan José Ganuza & Fernando Gómez, 2002. "Caution, children crossing: Heterogeneity of victim's cost of care and negligence rule," Economics Working Papers 666, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  6. Juan José Ganuza & Fernando Gómez, 2003. "Optimal negligence rule under limited liability," Economics Working Papers 759, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 2004.
  7. Blumkin, Tomer & Margalioth, Yoram & Sadka, Efraim, 2007. "Anti-discrimination rules versus income taxation in the pursuit of horizontal equity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 1167-1176, June.
  8. Blumkin, Tomer & Margalioth, Yoram, 2008. "On terror, drugs and racial profiling," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 194-203, September.

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