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An economics angle on the law


  • Stuart Birks

    () (University of the West of England, Bristol and Massey University New Zealand)


Law and economics tends to focus on ways in which others respond to the law, or on economic input into legal deliberation. There is another dimension that can benefit from an economics perspective. Many people work in law-related occupations. They are delivering a service. In addition, policy is often formulated in terms of legislation or regulation, so the operation and impact of the law is an important aspect of much policy implementation. This paper considers the nature of law as an economic product, identifying characteristics and considering implications. There are parallels with approaches to economics in other areas, land and health being but two. The law has its own defining features, however. These include the nature of legal transactions, with more than one party making the consumption decision, and the importance of rhetoric, or persuasion, for determining outcomes. The nature of costs and benefits, available information, accountability of participants and conflicting objectives are some additional aspects meriting consideration. Several of these are discussed, using economic concepts as tools of analysis where they appear to suit particular circumstances. As such, the discussion illustrates the way that economics may contribute to understanding without requiring assumptions of complete description within a closed analytical system.

Suggested Citation

  • Stuart Birks, 2012. "An economics angle on the law," Working Papers 20121212, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwe:wpaper:20121212

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