IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/van/wpaper/1125.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Cumulative Harm and Resilient Liability Rules for Product Markets

Author

Listed:
  • Andrew F. Daughety

    () (Department of Economics and Law School, Vanderbilt University)

  • Jennifer F. Reinganum

    () (Department of Economics and Law School, Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

In the traditional model of the law and economics of torts, harm accrues proportional to use. This has the remarkable implication for products-generated torts that product performance concerns (e.g., issues of care and of liability for harm) can be considered independently of market performance concerns (e.g., market structure and competition). Moreover, the classical analysis finds that all liability regimes (strict liability, no liability, and negligence based on the socially-efficient due care standard) yield the same choice of care by the firm in the unilateral care tort model. We modify the standard model to allow for cumulative harm (that is, the per-unit expected harm is increasing in the level of use); examples from pharmaceuticals, environmental risks, privacy, food products, and mechanical systems are provided. We show that, when expected harm is cumulative, the separation between the level of care and the level of output does not occur. We further show that the different possible liability regimes now produce different outcomes and yield different implications for social efficiency. This implies an interaction between law concerned with liability and law concerned with market performance. Since these generally governmental (and private law) responsibilities are divided among relevant agencies and institutions, and are the subjects of different bodies of law, this presents a challenge to the correct design of rules for agents in the economy. We argue for selection among alternative liability regimes based upon what we refer to as �resilience:� a resilient policy is robust to the incentives for agents to undermine it and flexible with respect to outside influences (e.g., from antitrust authorities or regulators). Strict liability is a resilient policy; no liability and negligence are not resilient. Thus, we provide a new argument for strict liability with respect to product-generated harms.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2011. "Cumulative Harm and Resilient Liability Rules for Product Markets," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 1125, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:1125
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.accessecon.com/pubs/VUECON/vu11-w25.pdf
    File Function: First version, September 2011
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2006. "Markets, torts, and social inefficiency," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(2), pages 300-323, June.
    2. Daniel F. Spulber, 1989. "Regulation and Markets," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262192756, January.
    3. A. Mitchell Polinsky & William P. Rogerson, 1983. "Products Liability, Consumer Misperceptions, and Market Power," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 581-589, Autumn.
    4. 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.
    5. Sheshinski, Eytan, 1976. "Price, Quality and Quantity Regulation in Monopoly Situations," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 43(17), pages 127-137, May.
    6. Michael Spence, 1977. "Consumer Misperceptions, Product Failure and Producer Liability," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 561-572.
    7. Polinsky, A Mitchell, 1980. "Strict Liability vs. Negligence in a Market Setting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(2), pages 363-367, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Tim Friehe, 2014. "Tacit collusion and liability rules," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 453-469, December.
    2. Campos, Sergio J. & Cotton, Christopher S. & Li, Cheng, 2015. "Deterrence effects under Twombly: On the costs of increasing pleading standards in litigation," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 61-71.
    3. Baumann, Florian & Friehe, Tim & Rasch, Alexander, 2016. "Why product liability may lower product safety," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 55-58.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Products liability; strict liability; negligence; cumulative harm; product quality;

    JEL classification:

    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:1125. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (John P. Conley). General contact details of provider: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.