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A Fundamental Enforcement Cost Advantage of the Negligence Rule over Regulation


  • Steven Shavell


Regulation and the negligence rule are both designed to obtain compliance with desired standards of behavior, but they differ in a primary respect: compliance with regulation is ordinarily assessed independently of the occurrence of harm, whereas compliance with the negligence rule is evaluated only if harm occurs. It is shown in a stylized model that because the use of the negligence rule is triggered by harm, the rule enjoys an intrinsic enforcement cost advantage over regulation. Moreover, this advantage suggests that the examination of behavior under the negligence rule should tend to be more detailed than under regulation (as it is).

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Shavell, 2012. "A Fundamental Enforcement Cost Advantage of the Negligence Rule over Regulation," NBER Working Papers 18418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18418
    Note: LE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kolstad, Charles D & Ulen, Thomas S & Johnson, Gary V, 1990. "Ex Post Liability for Harm vs. Ex Ante Safety Regulation: Substitutes or Complements?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 888-901, September.
    2. Steven Shavell, 1984. "A Model of the Optimal Use of Liability and Safety Regulation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 271-280, Summer.
    3. Steven Shavell, 2011. "Corrective Taxation versus Liability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 273-276, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Florian Baumann & Klaus Heine, 2013. "Innovation, Tort Law, and Competition," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 169(4), pages 703-719, December.
    2. Andrzej Baniak & Peter Grajzl, 2014. "Controlling Product Risks when Consumers are Heterogeneously Overconfident: Producer Liability vs. Minimum Quality Standard Regulation," CESifo Working Paper Series 5003, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics
    • K20 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - General
    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy

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