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Real Options Theory for Law Makers

  • Bruno Deffains
  • Marie Obidzinski

Abstract The formulation of legal rules is a challenging issue for lawmakers. Trade-offs are inevitable between providing more guidance by specific rules and enlarging the scope by general rules. Using real options theory we show that the degree of precision should be considered as a degree of flexibility which increases the value of the text. Thus, we derive a normative principle for a draftsman to choose between rules versus standards and to decide when the law should be enacted. In highly innovating environments, delaying the enactment allows lawmakers to obtain more information. Therefore, the lower the degree of precision of the law, the shorter the delay. JEL Classification – C61, G12, K00, K40.

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Article provided by De Boeck Université in its journal Recherches économiques de Louvain.

Volume (Year): 75 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 93-117

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Handle: RePEc:cai:reldbu:rel_751_0093
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  1. William M. Landes & Richard A. Posner, 1976. "Legal Precedent: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 0146, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Pistor, Katharina & Xu, Cheng-Gang, 2003. "Law Enforcement under Incomplete Law: Theory and Evidence from Financial Market Regulation," CEPR Discussion Papers 3788, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  10. Robert C. Merton, 1973. "Theory of Rational Option Pricing," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 4(1), pages 141-183, Spring.
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  13. Baker, George & Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1999. "Informal Authority in Organizations," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 56-73, April.
  14. Avinash K. Dixit & Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Investment under Uncertainty," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 5474, 06-2016.
  15. Peter-Jan Engelen, 2004. "Criminal Behavior: A Real Option Approach With an Application to Restricting Illegal Insider Trading," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 329-352, May.
  16. Isaac Ehrlich & Richard A. Posner, 1974. "An Economic Analysis of Legal Rulemaking," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 257-286, January.
  17. Robert McDonald & Daniel Siegel, 1986. "The Value of Waiting to Invest," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(4), pages 707-727.
  18. Arun S. Malik, 1990. "Avoidance, Screening and Optimum Enforcement," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(3), pages 341-353, Autumn.
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