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Which Articles have most Influenced Law & Economics Scholarship?

June 27, 2017

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A curated list of the critical research papers

For eleven years Edward Elgar Publishing has published the acclaimed Economic Approaches to Law (EAL) Research Collection series, edited by Judge Richard Posner and Professor Francesco Parisi.

The Research Collection format is designed to improve print access to journal literature, reproducing the most important and influential English language journal articles and papers in a particular field. Each title is edited by leading scholars and includes an original review article, setting their choices into context.

In 2016, the EAL series celebrated its 50th release – Economics of Corporate Law edited by Professors Claire A. Hill and Brett H. McDonnell. A full list of titles in the ‘Economic Approaches to Law’ series can be found at the foot of this post.

The combined listing of 1356 articles, by 1215 scholars, provides a data set for some interesting analysis of the most influential scholars and key contributions across the discipline.

This analysis differs from citation indexes. The articles are not selected purely by how many times they have been cited elsewhere, but whether, in the view of the experienced editors they are critical for an understanding of how subjects have developed. Each Research Collection title in the series is distinct and so the 50 books cover the full breadth of law and economics, with significantly less bias shown towards the most researched topics.

So what and who are the most influential?

When it all started

fig 1

Figure 1. When the papers include in Economic Approaches to Law series were published. Papers included more than once are counted multiple times.

As the chart above demonstrates, the foundations of law and economics study were laid in the 1950s and 1960s, but it was not until the 1970s that the field really took off.

Figure 1 is not exhaustive, however. The series has reproduced a small number of pieces originally published before 1900, by Aristotle (Commons and Anti-commons), Adam Smith (In the Economics of Comparative Law), James Madison (Economics of Constitutional Law) and Augustin Cournot (Commons and Anti-commons).

Leading thinkers

23 scholars have seen their work included in the series 9 or more times. Of the below, the work of Judge Richard Posner and Professor Steven Shavell features the most regularly, an impressive 34 times each.

Nearly half of the authors listed below have also contributed directly to the series as volume editors.

Richard A. Posner 34
Steven Shavell 34
Andrei Shleifer 24
Francesco Parisi 20
Richard A. Epstein 20
William M. Landes 17
Alan O. Sykes 16
Louis Kaplow 16
A. Mitchell Polinsky 14
Eric A. Posner 14
Robert Cooter 14
Florencio López-de-Silanes 13
Rafael La Porta 13
Cass R. Sunstein 12
Lucian Arye Bebchuk 12
Robert W. Staiger 12
Barry R. Weingast 11
Kyle Bagwell 11
Daniel L. Rubinfeld 10
Alan Schwartz 9
Chris William Sanchirico 9
Geoffrey P. Miller 9
Jeffrey J. Rachlinski 9

Table 1. Authors and the number of times that papers authored or co-authored have appeared in the Economic Approaches to Law Series.

 

Most included papers

Given the number topics the series has covered since it began, and the 50 entries we have accumulated in that time, it is perhaps surprising that relatively few papers are duplicated between volumes. Below is a list of those that have been included 3 or more times.

Bruce L. Benson (1989), ‘The Spontaneous Evolution of Commercial Law’ 4
Guido Calabresi and A. Douglas Melamed (1972), ‘Property Rules, Liability Rules and Inalienability: One View of The Cathedral’ 4
Harold Demsetz (1967), ‘Toward a Theory of Property Rights’, American Economic Review, 57 (2), May, 347–59 4
Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, Andrei Shleifer and Robert W. Vishny (1998), ‘Law and Finance’ 4
A. Mitchell Polinsky and Yeon-Koo Che (1991), ‘Decoupling Liability: Optimal Incentives for Care and Litigation’ 3
Lisa Bernstein (1992), ‘Opting Out of the Legal System: Extralegal Contractual Relations in the Diamond Industry’ 3
R.H. Coase (1960), ‘The Problem of Social Cost’ 3
Richard A. Posner (1973), excerpts from ‘An Economic Approach to Legal Procedure and Judicial Administration’ 3
Robert C. Ellickson (1986), ‘Of Coase and Cattle: Dispute Resolution Among Neighbors in Shasta County’ 3

Table 2. Most included papers in the Economic Approaches to Law series

So what are the most influential papers on Law and Economics?

The data and analysis presented in this blog piece is an amalgamation of the key scholarship that has influenced (and continues to influence) many of the individual strands of law and economics. Can we use this data to identify definitively the key pieces of research across the entire discipline? Perhaps not. The size and complexity of the discipline, coupled with the relatively minor incidence of duplication between volumes, diminishes the usefulness of a purely objective, data-led, approach.

Help, though, is at hand.

Our EAL series editors, Judge Richard Posner and Professor Francesco Parisi, have recently updated and reviewed their classic 1997 survey of the law and economics literature. Their personal assessment of the field is now available online. Alongside each of our new print edition Research Collections it can now be purchased by individuals as an Elgar Research Review* for $35. To give you a taste, it is currently free to access until the end of June 2017.


Notes

*Elgar Research Reviews are online only versions of our multi-volume Research Collections, comprising the list of recommended readings and the editor’s original review article, but without access to the reprinted works themselves. They are available pay-per-view via our online platform Elgaronline.

The list of full printed Research Collection books that include the reprinted articles can be found on our website here.

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Reforming public administration in Europe requires a good grasp of nuances

August 25, 2016

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lights-cityscapeToo different? Europe’s bureaucracies defy uniform approaches to reform, writes Gerhard Hammerschmid.

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Brexit Debate: Being Part of the European Global Macro-region Could be Vital for British Cities

May 13, 2016

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Thames and London City

Brexit enthusiasts argue that to maintain and improve its position in the world economy the UK doesn’t need to be part of the European Union. But research published in Changing Urban and Regional Relations in Europe: Europe as a Global Macro-region paints a different picture.

The two and a half year study* by Kathy Pain and Gilles Van Hamme with academics in the UK, Belgium, France, Italy, Bulgaria and Sweden, identifies for the first time just how functionally interconnected and integrated the European economic space really is. […]

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EEP win the 2013 Bookseller Industry Award for ‘Independent, Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year’

May 15, 2013

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Bookseller Industry Award Winner logo

Edward Elgar Publishing have won Independent, Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year at the Bookseller Industry Awards 2013.

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Edward Elgar Publishing Announces the Launch of Elgaronline

April 2, 2013

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We are pleased to announce the launch of Elgaronline, the exciting new digital platform for EEP’s books, reference works and journals. Elgaronline has launched with over 2,000 titles, over 30,000 searchable chapters, articles and entries, and is custom-designed to give users full access to the depth and breadth of EEP’s content in one place. According to our chairman, Edward Elgar, “the launch of Elgaronline represents a major milestone in our history, and sees EEP very well placed to capitalise on the digital revolution in academic publishing.”

Demonstrating the very latest in web-design and functionality, Elgaronline will offer easy browsing and sophisticated search capability right across its broad range of content, including Research Monographs, Research Handbooks, Companions, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias and Journals.

With no Digital Rights Management (“DRM”) attached to the content, multi-user access as standard and publication simultaneously with or even before print editions, there will be no simpler or more advantageous way to access EEP’s internationally recognized research publications. The platform also offers librarians the option to purchase tailor-made, subject specific eCollections in Business and Management, Economics, Social and Political Science and Law.

Elgaronline’s key benefits for users and librarians include:

  • Totally DRM-free content, including our critically acclaimed Research Handbooks, Companions, Dictionaries and Research Monographs, allowing users to download and continue their research when and where they want
  • Multi-user access as standard
  • Over 30,000 searchable chapters, articles and entries available from launch, all with tagged keywords and abstracts, giving access to a vast array of content
  • Market leading browse and search functionalities to maximise content discovery and usage and enrich the research experience
  • Subject tailored eCollections and flexible purchase options including perpetual access, backlist and frontlist collections
  • Free sample chapters for non-subscribed content

Tim Williams (Managing Director, Edward Elgar Publishing)

“Elgaronline took over a year to research and develop, and we worked closely with university librarians across the US, Asia and Europe to ensure it met all of their needs for user experience, accessibility and reporting. Showcasing first-rate scholarly content and a market leading user-experience, Elgaronline is an easy choice.” (Tim Williams, Managing Director)

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