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ODEC 4085 - Law and economics

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2018-2019

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the school of thought “law and economics”. Throughout the course we will explore its positive and normative assumptions, perspectives and methodologies. We will also discuss various critiques levied against its main tenets. Exploring thewritings of some of the main advocates for and against this school of thought, the aim is to depict a complete picture where the assessment of the application, principles and ideologies of this movement can be critically investigated. The class will start with an overall introduction to this movement and some of its basic critiques. Then we will move to address some of its fundamental theorems, particularly the Coase Theorem and other pillar economic concepts heavily utilized by this school. We will then focus on its normative aspects dealing with evaluating and prescribing legal norms using the standard of economic efficiency. Here we will focus on the notion of efficiency as the normative guiding principle of any law and economics approach. We will explore critiques to this normative take and discuss various alternative approaches. These will rely on notions of equity, distribution, social justice and some aspects of behavioral economics.Having introduced the normative law and economics branch from a critical perspective, we will then move to investigate how the movement deals with concepts of property law, accident law, contract law, litigation and the legal process, public enforcement and criminal law. Here we will once again critically assess the approach utilized by the law and economics movement in each of these fields.


WAKED, Dina (Assistant Professeur à Sciences Po)

Pedagogical format

Course objectives: - Develop a basic understanding of the methodology, application and ideology of law and economics as a school of thought; - Evaluate critically the different aspects of this influential movement; - Formulate a well-informed opinion about the different aspects of law and economics, regarding both its positive and normative analysis.

Course validation

Continuous assessment : 100 % of the final grade. - Participation: Students are asked to read the assignments prior to class and to participate in class discussions (20%); - Reaction Papers: Students are asked to write 2 reaction papers throughout the semester discussing, in no more than 3 pages, an issue raised in the material of the following class (40%); - Final exam: Students will take a final exam at the end of the semester (40%).


Students are required to read before each class. Readings are organized as required and suggested readings. If you have time go through the suggested readings otherwise, focus only on the required ones.

Required reading

  • The course will rely on several textbooks and articles. The material will be uploaded onto Google Drive
  • A. Mitchell Polinsky, An Introduction to Law and Economics (3rd ed., 2003)
  • Amartya Sen, Economic Methodology: Heterogeneity and Relevance, 71(3) Social Research (Fall 2004)
  • Cento G. Veljanovski, The Economic Approach to Law: A Critical Introduction, 7 British J. L. Sos. (Winter 1980), pp.158-193
  • Robert Cooter, Thomas Ulen, Law and Economics (6th ed., 2011), chapter 1, An Introduction to Law and Economics, pp. 1-11