Economic analysis of law, or economically-informed legal research

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In this chapter, I aim to reflect on the topic of ‘lay decision-making in the legal system’ from the perspective of the economic analysis of law. Or, in other words, I attempt to look at the ways in which economic theory and insight can help resolve issues of legal decision-making by providing both a methodology for the analysis of the legal reality to which the decision relates (that is, contributing to the decision-making process by structuring it and helping us focus on relevant factors), and a normative framework and workable criteria to favour some alternatives over others (i.e. providing a decision-making benchmark). Broadly, then, I am concerned with the question of how can economic analysis help us improve legal decision-making generally. After this broad discussion, which is confessedly superficial, and in order to stress the link with the rest of the contributions to this book, I briefly focus on the potential application of some of these theories to research that aims to assess specific issues of lay decision-making in the legal system. Some final thoughts stress the importance of carrying out economically-informed legal research more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Methods in Law
EditorsDawn Watkins, Mandy Burton
ISBN (Electronic)9781315386645
ISBN (Print)9781138230187, 9781138230194
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2017


  • economic analysis of law
  • economically-informed legal research
  • legal methodology
  • law and economics


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