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The Condorcet Jury Theorem and the Expressive Function of Law: A Theory of Informative Law


  • Dhammika Dharmapala
  • Richard H. McAdams


We argue that legislation can generate compliance expressively, independently of deterrence. The Condorcet jury theorem implies that, in certain circumstances, the legislative process aggregates the private information of legislators to reach a decision superior to that of any individual legislator. Citizens may update their beliefs about issues the legislation addresses even though individual legislators are no better informed than individual citizens, and change their behavior in the direction of greater compliance. We first use a model with sincere voting and then consider strategic voting, position-taking preferences, lobbying, and legislative institutions. We use a public smoking ban for illustration, and propose an experimental test. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Dhammika Dharmapala & Richard H. McAdams, 2003. "The Condorcet Jury Theorem and the Expressive Function of Law: A Theory of Informative Law," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 1-31.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:5:y:2003:i:1:p:1-31

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1999. "Public School Segregation in Metropolitan Areas," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 75(4), pages 487-504.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dhammika Dharmapala & Thomas J. Miceli, 2013. "Search, seizure and false (?) arrest: an analysis of fourth amendment remedies when police can plant evidence," Chapters,in: Research Handbook on Economic Models of Law, chapter 11, pages 208-234 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Chen, Daniel L. & Yeh, Susan, 2014. "The construction of morals," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 84-105.
    3. Dharmapala Dhammika & Garoupa Nuno & McAdams Richard H., 2009. "Belief in a Just World, Blaming the Victim, and Hate Crime Statutes," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 311-345, May.
    4. Bryan C. McCannon, 2015. "Condorcet jury theorems," Chapters,in: Handbook of Social Choice and Voting, chapter 9, pages 140-160 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Richard McAdams & Janice Nadler, "undated". "A Third Model of Legal Compliance: Testing for Expressive Effects in a Hawk/Dove Game," Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy Working Paper Series yale_lepp-1029, Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy.
    6. Dhammika Dharmapala & Nuno Garoupa & Richard H. McAdams, 2016. "Punitive Police? Agency Costs, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Procedure," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 105-141.
    7. Roger Congleton, 2007. "Informational limits to democratic public policy: The jury theorem, yardstick competition, and ignorance," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 132(3), pages 333-352, September.
    8. Ericson, Keith Marzilli & Kessler, Judd B., 2016. "The articulation of government policy: Health insurance mandates versus taxes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 43-54.
    9. Brennan, Geoffrey & Brooks, Michael, 2011. "On the ‘cashing out’ hypothesis and ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ policies," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 601-610.
    10. Frank Fagan, 2013. "After the sunset: the residual effect of temporary legislation," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 209-226, August.
    11. Larcom Shaun, 2013. "Accounting for Legal Pluralism: The Impact of Pre-colonial Institutions on Crime," The Law and Development Review, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 25-59, November.

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