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On the optimality of a duty-to-rescue rule and the cost of wrongful intervention

  • Crettez, Bertrand
  • Deloche, Regis

In common law legal systems, there is no legal duty to rescue persons in danger. By contrast in code-based legal systems, the principle of duty to rescue does apply. What is behind this difference? To answer this question, we develop a new model extending the reach and strength of the standard civic duty game by taking into account the cost of wrongful intervention. We use this model to analyze and compare three policy options: doing nothing, adopting a duty-to-rescue rule, and encouraging would-be rescuers. We show that a duty-to-rescue rule is more likely to be welfare enhancing when the cost of inappropriately intervening is low, and that, in certain cases, encouraging would-be rescuers is preferred by a representative citizen to both a duty-to-rescue rule and no-rule. Finally, we offer an explanation for the choices made in the USA and France as to whether to use rescue laws.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0144818811000494
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Review of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 31 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 263-271

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Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:31:y:2011:i:4:p:263-271
DOI: 10.1016/j.irle.2011.08.002
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/irle

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  1. Joseph E Harrington Jr, 2001. "A Simple Game-Theoretic Explanation for the Relationship Between Group Size and Helping," Economics Working Paper Archive 417, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  2. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1984. "Participation and the provision of discrete public goods: a strategic analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 171-193, July.
  3. William M. Landes & Richard A. Posner, 1978. "Salvors, Finders, Good Samaritans and Other Rescuers: An Economic Study of Law and Altruism," NBER Working Papers 0227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rubin, Paul H., 1986. "Costs and benefits of a duty to rescue," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 273-276, December.
  5. Sophie Harnay & Alain Marciano, 2009. "Should I help my neighbor? Self-interest, altruism and economic analyses of rescue laws," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 28(2), pages 103-131, October.
  6. Hasen, Richard L., 1995. "The efficient duty to rescue," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 141-150, June.
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