Public Regulation of Private Accident Risk: The Moral Hazard of Technological Improvements
This paper discusses individual agents' incentives to take precautions to prevent accidents when the prevention technology facing the agents is changed due to regulation. It is shown that private prevention activities vary greatly with different attitudes towards risk. This is a great potential problem for the implementation of several types of legal regulation of individuals' precautionary level, like negligence rules. In this case, regulators need to observe the true preferences of the regulated agents to implement the optimal program. One novel feature of the present analysis is that only simple properties of the prevention technology need to be known to identify potential incentive problems, regardless of the underlying preferences. Copyright 1992 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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