A Law and Econ Reading List

As a follow-up to Caleb’s Org Econ reading list, here’s what I’d assign to graduate students in Law and Econ.


Alchian, A. A. (1950). Uncertainty, evolution, and economic theory. Journal of Political Economy, 58(3), 211-221.

Stigler, G. J., & Becker, G. S. (1977). De gustibus non est disputandum. The American Economic Review, 67(2), 76-90.

Becker, G. S. (1993). The economic way of looking at behavior. Journal of Political Economy, 101(3), 385-409.

Barzel, Y. (1997), The Economic Analysis of Property Rights. Cambridge University Press. Chapter 1: The Property Rights Model, pp. 3-15.


Coase, R. H. (1960). The Problem of Social Cost. Journal of Law and Economics, 3(1).

Barzel, Y. (1977). Some fallacies in the interpretation of information costs. The Journal of Law and Economics, 20(2), 291-307.

Allen, Douglas W. (1991). What are Transaction Costs? Research in Law and Economics, 14, 1-18.

Stigler, G. J. (1992). Law or economics?. The Journal of Law and Economics, 35(2), 455-468.



Cheung, S. N. (1970). The structure of a contract and the theory of a non-exclusive resource. The Journal of Law and Economics, 13(1), 49-70.

Johnson, R. N., & Libecap, G. D. (1982). Contracting problems and regulation: the case of the fishery. The American Economic Review, 72(5), 1005-1022.

Lueck, D. (1994). Common property as an egalitarian share contract. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 25(1), 93-108.

Barzel, Y. (1997), The Economic Analysis of Property Rights. Cambridge University Press. Chapter 2: The Public Domain, pp. 16-32.


Umbeck, J. (1977). A theory of contract choice and the California gold rush. The Journal of Law and Economics, 20(2), 421-437.

Ellickson, R. C. (1989). A hypothesis of wealth-maximizing norms: Evidence from the whaling industry. JL Econ. & Org., 5, 83-97.

Lueck, D. (1995). The rule of first possession and the design of the law. The Journal of Law and Economics, 38(2), 393-436.

Barzel, Y. (1997), The Economic Analysis of Property Rights. Cambridge University Press. Chapter 4: Divided Ownership, pp. 55-64.

Libecap, G. D., & Lueck, D. (2011). The demarcation of land and the role of coordinating property institutions. Journal of Political Economy, 119(3), 426-467.


Barzel, Y. (1997), The Economic Analysis of Property Rights. Cambridge University Press. Chapter 8: Wealth Maximizing Constraints on Property Rights, pp. 55-64.

Andolfatto, D. (2002). A theory of inalienable property rights. Journal of Political Economy, 110(2), 382-393.

Allen, D. W. (2002). The rhino’s horn: incomplete property rights and the optimal value of an asset. The Journal of Legal Studies, 31(S2), S339-S358.

Fleck, R. K. (2014). Can prohibitions on price gouging reduce deadweight losses?. International Review of Law and Economics, 37, 100-107.



Alchian, A. A., & Demsetz, H. (1972). Production, information costs, and economic organization. The American Economic Review, 62(5), 777-795.

Barzel, Y. (1997), The Economic Analysis of Property Rights. Cambridge University Press. Chapter 5: The Old Firm and the New Organization, pp. 65-84.

Holmstrom, B. (1999). The firm as a subeconomy. Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 15(1), 74-102.

Baker, G. P., & Hubbard, T. N. (2004). Contractibility and asset ownership: On-board computers and governance in US trucking. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 119(4), 1443-1479.


Cheung, S. N. (1983). The contractual nature of the firm. The Journal of Law and Economics, 26(1), 1-21.

Goldin, C. (1986). Monitoring costs and occupational segregation by sex: a historical analysis. Journal of Labor Economics, 4(1), 1-27.

Leffler, K. B., & Rucker, R. R. (1991). Transactions costs and the efficient organization of production: a study of timber-harvesting contracts. Journal of Political Economy, 99(5), 1060-1087.

Allen, D., & Lueck, D. (1992). Contract choice in modern agriculture: cash rent versus cropshare. The Journal of Law and Economics, 35(2), 397-426.

Allen, D. W., & Borchers, A. (2016). Conservation practices and the growth of US cash rent leases. Journal of Agricultural Economics, 67(2), 491-509.


Posner, R. A. (1980). A theory of primitive society, with special reference to law. The Journal of Law and Economics, 23(1), 1-53.

Allen, D. W. (1990). An inquiry into the state’s role in marriage. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 13(2), 171-191.

Botticini, M., & Siow, A. (2003). Why dowries?. American Economic Review, 93(4), 1385-1398.

Geddes, R., Lueck, D., & Tennyson, S. (2012). Human capital accumulation and the expansion of women’s economic rights. The Journal of Law and Economics, 55(4), 839-867.

Leeson, P. T., & Pierson, J. (2016). Prenups. The Journal of Legal Studies, 45(2), 367-400.


Epstein, R. A. (1973). A theory of strict liability. The Journal of Legal Studies, 2(1), 151-204.

Posner, R. A. (1973). Strict liability: A comment. The Journal of Legal Studies, 2(1), 205-221.

Landes, W. M., & Posner, R. A. (1980). Joint and multiple tortfeasors: An economic analysis. The Journal of Legal Studies, 9(3), 517-555.

Lott Jr, J. R. (1987). Should the wealthy be able to buy justice?. Journal of Political Economy, 95(6), 1307-1316.

Brooks, R. R. (2002). Liability and organizational choice. The Journal of Law and Economics, 45(1), 91-125.


Becker, G. S. (1968). Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach. Journal of Political Economy, 76(2), 169-217.

Lott, Jr, J. R., & Mustard, D. B. (1997). Crime, deterrence, and right-to-carry concealed handguns. The Journal of Legal Studies, 26(1), 1-68.

Klick, J., & Tabarrok, A. (2005). Using terror alert levels to estimate the effect of police on crime. The Journal of Law and Economics, 48(1), 267-279.

Allen, D. W., & Barzel, Y. (2011). The evolution of criminal law and police during the pre-modern era. The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization, 27(3), 540-567.



Tullock, G. (1975). On The Efficient Organization Of Trials. Kyklos, 28(4), 745-762.

Posner, R. A. (1993). What do judges and justices maximize? (The same thing everybody else does). Supreme Court Economic Review, 3, 1-41.

Glaeser, E., Johnson, S., & Shleifer, A. (2001). Coase versus the Coasians. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 116(3), 853-899.

Leeson, P. T. (2012). Ordeals. The Journal of Law and Economics, 55(3), 691-714.


Becker, G. S., & Stigler, G. J. (1974). Law enforcement, malfeasance, and compensation of enforcers. The Journal of Legal Studies, 3(1), 1-18.

Klein, B., & Leffler, K. B. (1981). The role of market forces in assuring contractual performance. Journal of Political Economy, 89(4), 615-641.

Friedman, D. (1984). Efficient institutions for the private enforcement of law. The Journal of Legal Studies, 13(2), 379-397.

MacLeod, W. B. (2007). Reputations, relationships, and contract enforcement. Journal of Economic Literature, 45(3), 595-628.

Leeson, P. T. (2009). The laws of lawlessness. The Journal of Legal Studies, 38(2), 471-503.


Ellickson, R. C. (1985). Of Coase and cattle: Dispute resolution among neighbors in Shasta County. Stan. L. Rev., 38, 623-687.

Posner, R. A. (1997). Social norms and the law: An economic approach. The American economic review, 87(2), 365-369.

Posner, R. A., & Rasmusen, E. B. (1999). Creating and enforcing norms, with special reference to sanctions. International Review of Law and Economics, 19(3), 369-382.

Allen, D. W., & Lueck, D. (2009). Customs and incentives in contracts. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 91(4), 880-894.

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