Manual Handbook on Contemporary Austrian Economics

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NF has also established rules that govern interactions outside the gang. All these rules have been codified in a written constitution that, similarly to what corporate culture does, sets workable principles and routines that create shared expectations for group members Kreps, Whether pirate ships or prison gangs, it is in the interest of these criminal organizations to develop self-governance mechanisms to mitigate moral hazard and adverse selection so as to maximize their profits.

They cannot use the government to enforce contracts or to arbitrate conflicts. These two chapters by Martin Krause and David Skarbek undoubtedly represent important contributions to the law and economics literature, particularly as it relates to the development of self-governance institutions to coordinate human interactions in the absence of government or, in the case of criminal organizations, in spite of government.

Peter Boettke

However, it is unclear what makes these two contributions uniquely Austrian. When it comes to the economic analysis of the law and particularly property rights, Austrian economists have long disagreed with mainstream scholars on efficiency. Building on the Austrian literature, Zywicki and Stringham , p.

The problem is these economists who argue in favor of changes to make the common law more efficient ignore that judges suffer from the same problems that public choice scholars identify with legislatures: interest-group pressures, rent-seeking, and rent-dissipating Zywicki and Stringham, , p. In light of this conclusion, Zywicki and Stringham , p.

Zywicki and Stringham , p.

At best, economics might be able to tell us whether some goals are incoherent Rothbard, , p. There is little doubt that competition as a discovery procedure is a better mechanism than government to sort out the rules and enforcement procedures that people actually value. But before reaching that conclusion, the authors spend two-thirds of the chapter arguing against Kaldor-Hicks efficiency—which no law and economics scholars claim is the panacea—without providing an alternative way to evaluate the law. More importantly, when Zywicki and Stringham , p.

Tremendous resources would be wasted on activities that do not create wealth. Nobody denies that we can rely on noneconomic means such as ethical principles to explain why theft should be and is illegal, but certainly efficiency and wealth maximization seem to be useful tools to explain why theft should be and is illegal. It is curious that Austrian scholars who have written on the tragic consequences of alcohol and drug prohibitions would argue that we should either rely on society-wide ethical principles or, better yet, abstain from evaluating any law or policy.

It is partly because of those society-wide ethical principles that most drugs remain illegal in the United States despite the obvious inefficiency of the war on drugs and its tragic consequences, intended and unintended. If Austrian scholars want mainstream economists to pay attention to their work, we should avoid telling them that economists should rely on noneconomic means to evaluate a law or a policy, and we definitely should avoid telling them that economists should abstain from evaluating a given law or policy because economics is a positive science.

To complicate matters, members of the family produce not only for the market to earn income but also for the household when engaging in childcare and other household activities. Horwitz , pp. This phenomenon also can help us understand part of the gender pay gap, since the mother will be less likely to invest in market human capital and more likely to invest in household human capital if she is more likely to end up with custody of the children. When it comes to no-fault divorce law, its effects are more ambiguous.


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In this chapter, Coyne , p. As Coyne , p. Certainly, incentives are a necessary but not sufficient condition for success in rule reforms.

Handbook on contemporary Austrian economics - University Of Pikeville

Other chapters in the Handbook deserve attention, also. But—though this is not necessarily a bad thing—too many of those chapters read like a literature review of what Austrians have said on a particular law and economics topic rather than novel contributions. As mentioned at the beginning of this review, there is little doubt that Austrian economists have made significant contributions to law and economics, and the Research Handbook on Austrian Law and Economics is additional evidence of that.


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What Austrian Economics IS and What Austrian Economics Is NOT with Steve Horwitz

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