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Law and Preferences

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  • Oren Bar-Gill

Abstract

Legal rules do more than provide incentives, they change people. When preferences and norms are endogenously determined via a process of imitation and learning, legal rules, by affecting the market outcome, may affect the dynamics of preference formation. Analyzing the effect of different legal rules should therefore go beyond the analysis of the incentives they provide. It should also include an analysis of their effect on the distribution of preferences and norms of behavior. We illustrate this claim by considering a simple market game in which individuals may have preferences that include fairness concerns. We show that different legal rules change not only the pattern of trade in a market game, but also individuals' fairness concerns. That is, different rules may eventually make individuals care more (or less) about a fair outcome. Specifically, our model suggests that enhanced remedies for breach of contract may reduce equilibrium preferences for fairness. Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Oren Bar-Gill, 2004. "Law and Preferences," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(2), pages 331-352, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:20:y:2004:i:2:p:331-352
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    Cited by:

    1. Riedel, Nadine & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah, 2013. "Asymmetric obligations," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 67-80.
    2. Bonatti, Luigi, 2008. "Cultural relativism and ideological policy makers in a general equilibrium model with for-profit and non-profit enterprises," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 1-15, March.
    3. Adriani, Fabrizio & Sonderegger, Silvia, 2015. "Trust, trustworthiness and the consensus effect: An evolutionary approach," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 102-116.
    4. Bierbrauer, Felix & Netzer, Nick, 2016. "Mechanism design and intentions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 557-603.
    5. Samuel Bowles & Sung-Ha Hwang, 2014. "Optimal Incentives with State-Dependent Preferences," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 16(5), pages 681-705, October.
    6. Shaun Larcom & Luca A. Panzone & Timothy Swanson, 2017. "Follow-the-leader? Measuring the internalisation of law," CIES Research Paper series 50-2017, Centre for International Environmental Studies, The Graduate Institute.
    7. Galbiati, Roberto & Vertova, Pietro, 2014. "How laws affect behavior: Obligations, incentives and cooperative behavior," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 48-57.
    8. Klick, Jonathan & Parisi, Francesco, 2008. "Social networks, self-denial, and median preferences: Conformity as an evolutionary strategy," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 1319-1327, August.
    9. Smith, Ian, 2007. "Property division on divorce with inequity aversion," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 111-128.

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