International Seminars on the New Institutional Economics

Empirical Methods for the Law, Syracuse, Italy, 2017
Conference No. 35
JITE edition: 174, no. 1
Organized by Christoph Engel & Urs Schweizer

The empirical legal movement is gaining momentum rapidly. Most contributions consist of applying the best empirical methods from the social sciences to legal issues. But the law is not always best served by applying the tried and tested empirical tools. Ultimately, lawyers argue normatively. It depends on the weight of a normative concern whether intervention that turns out unnecessary is worse than non-intervention that would have been in order. Other legal issues are ill defined in the first place, and then defy attempts at identifying causal effects. The papers from this symposium explore empirical strategies that directly target these and other legal challenges.

Contributions by:
Christoph Engel, Jeffrey Rachlinski, Daniel Klerman (with Eric Helland and Yoon-Ho Alex Lee), Eric Helland (with Jungmo Yoon), Mathew McCubbins (with Jonathan Katz), J.J. Prescott, Eric Talley
The Remedies Game, Sibiu, Romania, 2016
Conference No. 34
JITE edition: 173, no. 1
Organized by Christoph Engel and Urs Schweizer

Legal obligations are not always fulfilled. This is when the obligation matters in court. Which remedy should courts grant? In economic perspective, the prospect of the remedy constitutes a game. By specifying the remedy, the legal order gives the parties incentives for action and investment choices. This also holds for potential tortfeasors, and even for government deciding to take a citizen’s property. The papers contributed to the symposium address these issues both theoretically and empirically.

Contributions by:
A. Wickelgren, S. Leshem, U. Schweizer, S. Höppner (with B. Depoorter and L. Freund), M. Mungan, S. Baker and E. Morrison (with A. Uettwiller).
Background material:
Beyond Privety, Edinburgh, 2015
Conference No. 33
JITE edition: 172, no. 1
Organized by Christoph Engel and Urs Schweizer

Legal relations quite often have effects that transgress the parties who initially created the relationship. The provider of a trading platform regulates trade in the interest of increasing volume. A seller trades a stolen good. One member of a class sues for all. Defendant is acquitted "for lack of evidence", and attracts social sanctions. The papers presented at the symposium approach the broader topic from these angles.

They are accompanied by papers investigating the power of communication, punishment, and pre-trial discovery. Some papers are theoretical models, others use observational data or experiments.

Contributions by:
B. Hermalin, G. Dari-Mattiacci (with C. Guerriero and Z. Huang), K. Weinshall-Margel (with A. Klement), A. Daughety and J. Reinganum, G. Charness (with J. Brandts and M. Ellman), M. Kocher (with D. Matzat), J. Gelbach
Does the law deliver?, Regensburg, 2014
Conference No. 32
JITE edition: 171, no. 1
Organized by Christoph Engel and Urs Schweizer

In a consequentialist perspective, the law is a governance tool. It then is an empirical question whether the law actually achieves its assigned goals. Empirical legal scholars address this question in the areas of private, criminal and public law, procedural and international law. The focus is on causal inference, using methods ranging from natural experiments, difference in difference estimation, placebo tests to vignette studies and randomized field experiments.

Contributions by:
Mila Versteeg, Adam Chilton, Max Schanzenbach, Geoffrey Miller, Michael Frakes, Daniel Ho, Marcelo Nunes and Ivan Ribeiro and Pedro Roquim and Julio Trecenti
What makes intervention legitimate?, Weimar, 2013
Conference No. 31
JITE edition: 170, no. 1
Organized by Christoph Engel and Urs Schweizer

If one assumes well-behaved preferences and takes efficiency to be the norm, welfare economics makes clear normative claims. This symposium broadens the view by allowing for alternative definitions of preferences, by redefining the policy problem, by discussing alternative normative goals, and by investigating perceived legitimacy.

Contributions stem from economists, lawyers, psychologists and philosophers.

Contributions by:
Kristoffel Grechenig and Martin Kolmar, Carl Christian von Weizsacker, James Konow, Fred Schauer, Leo Katz, Yuval Feldman and Henry Smith, Fangfang Tan and Erte Xiao.
Behavioral Theory of Institutions, Bruges, 2012
Conference No. 30
JITE edition: 169, no. 1
Organized by Christoph Engel and Urs Schweizer

Institutional economics has originated as the application of incentive analysis to institutions. Yet a growing empirical literature has put the profit maximization motive into perspective. A related strand of literature has addressed the cognitive limitations characteristic for individual decision making. This conference reflects the relevance of these findings for the analysis of institutions, combining theoretical with empirical contributions.

Contributions by:
Björn Bartling and Ernst Fehr and Klaus Schmidt, Christine Jolls, Catherine Hafer and Dimitri Landa, Shachar Kariv and Dan Silverman, Sophie Bade, Ronald J. Gilson and Alan Schwartz
Testing Contracts, Krakow, 2011
Conference No. 29
JITE edition: 168, no. 1
Organized by Christoph Engel and Urs Schweizer

Contract law is among the most studied topics of law and economics scholarship. While first generation work has mostly been theoretical, this conference focuses on empirical studies, be they based on field or on experimental evidence.

Contributions by:
Richard Brooks and Alexander Stremitzer and Stephan Tontrup, Jonathan Klick and Bruce Kobayashi and Larry Ribstein, Daphna Lewinsohn-Zamir, Claudia Landeo and Kathryn Spier, Florencia Marotta-Wurgler, Zev Eigen, Eric Talley and Drew O'Kane
B2C - Business to Consumer Transactions, Budapest, 2010
Conference No. 28
JITE edition: 167, no. 1
Organized by Christoph Engel and Urs Schweizer

Economies of scale and scope, different skills, and a host of behavioural factors create an asymmetry between business suppliers and consumer buyers. This conference studies the sources of the asymmetry, as well as the viability of solutions.

Contributions by:
Roman Inderst, Abraham Wickelgren, Samuel Issacharoff, Geoffrey Miller, Stefan Bühler and Daniel Halbheer, Gregory Werden and Luke Froeb, Kenneth Ayotte and Henry Hansmann, Clemens Otto and Vikrant Vig
Jurimetrics, Kloster Eberbach, 2009
Conference No. 27
JITE edition: 166, no. 1
Organized by Christoph Engel and Urs Schweizer

Much like econometrics and cliometrics, jurimetrics uses statistical tools to analyse field data that matters for the law. This could be data originating in the legal system itself, like the incidence of concurring votes. It could be data resulting from an exercise in coding legal documents, like the effectiveness of legal orders in handling standardised cases. Or it could be data on social issues that matter for the interpretation of the law, like the use of shareholder rights.

Contributions by:
Theodore Eisenberg, Michael Heise, Martin T. Wells, Mathias Siems, Simon F. Deakin, Holger Spamann, Daniel Rubinfeld, Joanna Shepherd, Yair Listokin, Kathryn Zeiler
Background material:
Coordination in the Absence of Sovereign Intervention , Lübbenau, 2008
Conference No. 26
JITE edition: 165, no. 1
Organized by Christoph Engel and Urs Schweizer

Sovereignty is a powerful and a convenient institution. Yet is many contexts, like public international law, international trade or on the Internet, it is not available, or it is substantially weakened. This conference explores the issue from a law and economics perspective.

Contributions by:
Erik Posner, Niels Petersen, Andreas Paulus, Charles Manski, George Norman, Anne van Aaken, Albrecht Ritschl