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On the Assignment of Liability: The Uniform Case


  • Peter A. Diamond
  • James A. Mirrlees


It is feasible in some competitive equilibria with externalities to shift some externality costs among different agents in the economy. However, simply shifting costs will not, in general, result in efficient allocation decisions by all agents, since the magnitude of externality costs depends on the decisions of several agents. Comparing different resource allocations arising from two different patterns of cost bearing is thus a comparison of two inefficient equilibria. This paper explores several sets of assumptions which are sufficient to determine which allocation is more efficient. These assumptions help to identify the agent Calabresi has called the cheapest cost avoider.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter A. Diamond & James A. Mirrlees, 1975. "On the Assignment of Liability: The Uniform Case," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 6(2), pages 487-516, Autumn.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:bellje:v:6:y:1975:i:autumn:p:487-516

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edwin Mansfield & John Rapoport & Anthony Romeo & Samuel Wagner & George Beardsley, 1977. "Social and Private Rates of Return from Industrial Innovations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 91(2), pages 221-240.
    2. Mansfield, Edwin, 1980. "Basic Research and Productivity Increase in Manufacturing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 863-873, December.
    3. Berndt, Ernst R & Christensen, Laurits R, 1974. "Testing for the Existence of a Consistent Aggregate Index of Labor Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 391-404, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci & Gerrit De Geest, 2005. "The Filtering Effect of Sharing Rules," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 207-237, January.
    2. Nuno Garoupa, 2009. "Least-Cost Avoidance: The Tragedy of Common Safety," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 235-261, May.
    3. C. Chu, 2003. "Precedent Externality, Network Effect, and the Possible Inefficiency of the Evolution of Laws," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 187-198, September.

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