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The Role of Social Image Concerns in the Design of Legal Regimes

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Listed:
  • Bruno Deffains
  • Claude Fluet

Abstract

We consider situations where legal liability yields insufficient incentives for socially efficient behavior, e.g., individuals who cause harm are not always sued or are unable to pay fully for harm done. Some individuals nevertheless behave efficiently because of intrinsic prosocial concerns. Others have no such concerns but would like people to believe that they do. We show that fault-based liability is generally more effective than strict liability in harnessing social image concerns. This extends to the case where courts can make mistakes. The rules of proof then affect the inferences drawn from court decisions and therefore the stigma attached to an adverse judgment. If fault is a rare event, plaintiffs or prosecutors should bear the burden of proving the defendant’s fault; otherwise there are cases where defendants should prove compliance with the legal standard of behavior. Under either assignment of the burden of proof, incentives to comply are maximized by a standard of proof stronger than a mere preponderance of evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno Deffains & Claude Fluet, 2013. "The Role of Social Image Concerns in the Design of Legal Regimes," Cahiers de recherche 1321, CIRPEE.
  • Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:1321
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    File URL: http://www.cirpee.org/fileadmin/documents/Cahiers_2013/CIRPEE13-21.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2009. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 544-555, March.
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    13. Cooter, Robert, 1998. "Expressive Law and Economics," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt3w34j60j, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    14. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 2005. "Deterrence versus Judicial Error: A Comparative View of Standards of Proof," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 161(2), pages 193-206, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Normative motivations; prosocial behavior; fault; negligence; strict liability; tort law; public enforcement of law; burden of proof; standard of proof;

    JEL classification:

    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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