Behavioral Law and Economics

Whatever the law achieves, it must do so by affecting the behavior of its subjects. This is why a behavioral perspective is fundamental to legal research. If the intervention targets behavior, the social problem that calls for intervention must be defined in behavioral terms as well. Why do individuals or organizations fail to coordinate? When and why do individuals create harm for others, unless guided or hindered by law? Or, in other words: Which is a behaviorally plausible definition of a collective-goods problem? How are those who create new legal rules, or those obliged to apply them, affected by behavioral effects? A behaviorally sound construction of the social problem is essential for the proper design of legal institutions. This design is often particularly challenging, since different groups of people behave in systematically different ways. Research undertaken by the group combines doctrine, comparative law, and legal and economic theory with empirics. Much empirical work is experimental, but the group is also increasingly using datasets generated by the judiciary and administration.

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