Saturday, 17 September 2016

Law and Economics: How Big is the Gap?

I have been at the annual conference of the European Association of Law and Economics this week. It was enjoyable (also a very nice location in Bologna) but, as always with interdisciplinary events, there was potential for misunderstandings – legal scholars being puzzled by ‘the math’ of the economists and economists by the ‘just words’ of the lawyers. So, in order to understand what was going on I scribbled this table, with four main general approaches, two by economists and two by lawyers.

Economics
Law
Theory & models
Policy options & jurisprudence
Empirics & Econometrics
Critical analysis of legal evolution or current law(s)

Ideally, of course, it would be good if the proponents of the approaches of the same lines were interacting with each other as they deal with related questions.

One can also complicate it a bit further as ‘law’ is not a uniform discipline but can (at least) be split into law as a social science and law as part of humanities (as further explained here):

Economics
Law as a
Social Science
Law as Humanities
Theory & models
Policy options (including possible impact)
Jurispru­dence
Empirics & Econometrics
Critical evaluation of law (including impact)
Understan­ding law

Then, it can be seen that for law as a social science the gap to economics is less pronounced given that, similar to economics, it asks which consequences the law may have – be it at the general level or analysing specific laws.