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Explaining the Variance in the Number of Tort Suits across U.S. States and between the United States and England


  • Posner, Richard A


There is enormous variance across jurisdictions in the number of cases filed, even when the laws in the different jurisdictions are similar. This article is an empirical study of the variance in the number of tort cases across U.S. states (plus the District, of Columbia and England), all of which have basically similar common-law tort principles and procedures. Regression analysis reveals that explanatory variable that can be given an economic interpretation, such as income, education, and urbanization, can explain much of the variance among these jurisdictions and that cultural factors are less important. A surprising result is that, after correcting for the economic variables, England appears to be more rather than, as generally believed, much less litigious than the United States. Copyright 1997 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Posner, Richard A, 1997. "Explaining the Variance in the Number of Tort Suits across U.S. States and between the United States and England," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 477-489, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:26:y:1997:i:2:p:477-89

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steven Shavell, 1981. "The Social versus the Private Incentive to Bring Suit in a Costly Legal System," NBER Working Papers 0741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Hylton, Keith N., 1990. "The influence of litigation costs on deterrence under strict liability and under negligence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 161-171, September.
    3. Png, I. P. L., 1987. "Litigation, liability, and incentives for care," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 61-85, October.
    4. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye, 1988. "Suing Solely to Extract a Settlement Offer," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 437-450, June.
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    1. repec:kap:ejlwec:v:44:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10657-016-9543-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Michael R. Baye & Dan Kovenock & Casper G. Vries, 2005. "Comparative Analysis of Litigation Systems: An Auction-Theoretic Approach," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(505), pages 583-601, July.
    3. Roberto Ippoliti, 2014. "La competitività del mercato forense e l’efficienza giudiziaria," ECONOMIA PUBBLICA, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2014(2), pages 53-90.
    4. Mora-Sanguinetti, Juan S. & Garoupa, Nuno, 2015. "Do lawyers induce litigation? Evidence from Spain, 2001–2010," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 29-41.
    5. Paolo Buonanno & Matteo M. Galizzi, 2012. "Advocatus, et non Latro? Testing the Supplier-Induced Demand Hypothesis for the Italian Courts of Justice," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 250, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    6. Amanda Carmignani & Silvia Giacomelli, 2010. "Too many lawyers? Litigation in Italian civil courts," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 745, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    7. Gerhard Clemenz & Klaus Gugler, 2000. "Macroeconomic Development and Civil Litigation," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 215-230, May.
    8. Paolo Buonanno & Matteo M. Galizzi, 2009. "Advocatus, et non latro? Testing the supplier-induced demand hypothesis for Italian courts of justice," Working Papers 0914, University of Brescia, Department of Economics.
    9. Eric Helland & Anupam B. Jena & Dan P. Ly & Seth A. Seabury, 2016. "Self-insuring against Liability Risk: Evidence from Physician Home Values in States with Unlimited Homestead Exemptions," NBER Working Papers 22031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Frenzen, Paul D. & Buzby, Jean C. & Rasco, Barbara, 2001. "Product Liability And Microbial Foodborne Illness," Agricultural Economics Reports 34059, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    11. Juan S. Mora-Sanguinetti & Nuno Garoupa, 2015. "Litigation in Spain 2001-2010: Exploring the market for legar services," Working Papers 1505, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.

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