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November 1987 Archives

Economic Analysis of Accident Law

Law and economics scholar Steve Shavell's Economic Analysis of Accident Law is in many respects a summation of the first two decades' work on accident law by the law and economics movement. The author speaks to several aspects of this body of research, including to what extent accident law influences precaution and reduces accidents, the role of insurance, the costs of the liability system, and possible alternatives. As with the contemporaneous account of Landes and Posner and the early work of Calabresi, Shavell's stylized economic models do not always accurately capture the legal process, because they necessarily rest on simplifications inconsistent with real-world rules and behavior. Still, this is one of the law and economics classics and should be read by anyone hoping to understand that literature and its impact on tort law.
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