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Product and Occupational Liability


  • W. Kip Viscusi


Increased liability for risks posed by jobs and products has transformed the cost structure of job and product markets. Liability costs used to be an incidental expense; now they are a factor of substantial economic consequence. The costs associated with a more active economic role of liability are not necessarily undesirable. However, examination of the economic objectives of the liability system will indicate that the current structure is not ideal. Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of the emerging role of liability is that it has been contemporaneous with an expansion in governmental risk regulation. The subsequent sections explore the performance of product and occupational liability with respect to the objectives of efficient deterrence and insurance, in the context of seeking an optimal mix between legal and regulatory institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • W. Kip Viscusi, 1991. "Product and Occupational Liability," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 71-91, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:5:y:1991:i:3:p:71-91 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.5.3.71

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Viscusi, W Kip & Hersch, Joni, 1990. "The Market Response to Product Safety Litigation," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 215-230, September.
    2. Broder, Ivy E, 1990. "The Cost of Accidental Death: A Capital Market Approach," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 51-63, March.
    3. Michael J. Moore & W. Kip Viscusi, 1989. "Promoting Safety through Workers' Compensation: The Efficacy and Net Wage Costs of Injury Insurance," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(4), pages 499-515, Winter.
    4. Viscusi, W Kip, 1989. "The Interaction between Product Liability and Workers' Compensation as Ex Post Remedies for Workplace Injuries," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 185-210, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joshua Schwartzstein & Andrei Shleifer, 2013. "An Activity-Generating Theory of Regulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(1), pages 1-38.
    2. Alberto Cavaliere, 2004. "Product Liability in the European Union: Compensation and Deterrence Issues," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 299-318, December.
    3. Ram Singh, 2002. "Characterization of Efficient Product Liability Rules: When Consumers are Imperfectly Informed," Working papers 110, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
    4. Beatty, Anne & Gron, Anne & Jorgensen, Bjorn, 2005. "Corporate risk management: evidence from product liability," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 152-178, April.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy


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