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Legal Default Rules: The Case of Wrongful Discharge Laws

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  • MacLeod, W. Bentley

    (Columbia University)

  • Nakavachara, Voraprapa

    (University of Southern California)

Abstract

One of the most vexing public policy issues is the extent to which governments should intervene into private contractual relationships. The purpose of this paper is to explore both theoretically and empirically the extent to which such interventions may enhance efficiency. In the case of employment law, economists have traditionally taken the view that intervention, such as protection against wrongful discharge, simply undoes the original intent of the parties to the agreement. We find that both the good faith and the implied contract exceptions to employment at will may enhance employment in occupations characterized by high levels of investment. These results suggest that under the appropriate conditions courts may enhance the operation of a competitive market by setting appropriate default remedies for breach of contract.

Suggested Citation

  • MacLeod, W. Bentley & Nakavachara, Voraprapa, 2006. "Legal Default Rules: The Case of Wrongful Discharge Laws," IZA Discussion Papers 1970, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1970
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David H. Autor & William R. Kerr & Adriana D. Kugler, 2007. "Do Employment Protections Reduce Productivity? Evidence from U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 12860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. MacLeod, W. Bentley, 2011. "Great Expectations: Law, Employment Contracts, and Labor Market Performance," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 18, pages 1591-1696, Elsevier.
    3. Armin Falk & David Huffman & W. Bentley Macleod, 2015. "Institutions and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(3), pages 571-590.
    4. Ant Bozkaya & William R. Kerr, 2009. "Labor Regulations and European Private Equity," NBER Working Papers 15627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Bruno Deffains & Dominique Demougin, 2006. "Institutional Competition, Political Process and Holdup," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2006-027, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    6. Elliott Ash & W. Bentley MacLeod, . "Intrinsic Motivation in Public Service: Theory and Evidence from State Supreme Courts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(4).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    employment law; wrongful discharge; private contracts; default rules;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law

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