The Rise of Law and Economics: An Intellectual History, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Rise of Law and Economics

An Intellectual History, 1st Edition

By George Priest


136 pages | 8 B/W Illus.

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This is a history - though, intentionally, a brief history - of the rise of law and economics as a field of thought in the US college and law school academy, though the field has expanded to Europe and South America and will expand further as other legal systems develop.

This book explains the origins of the field and the sources of its growth during its formative period. It describes the intellectual roots of the field, and the field’s relationship to the understanding of the role of the legal system in directing the functioning of the economy. It describes the effect of the Great Depression and the expansion of governmental power on advancing the functional approach. The book then addresses the work of Aaron Director, during the late 1950s, on focusing economic analysis as a means of understanding the effects of the legal and regulatory system on the allocation of resources in the society. Then it turns to the subsequent intellectual founders of the field—Ronald Coase, Guido Calabresi and Richard Posner—and attempts to explain the significance of their work. It also discusses the efforts of Robert Bork and Henry Manne toward the influence of law and economics on public policy. The book ends with the founding of the American Law & Economics Association in 1991.

This is an essential companion of law and economics texts for undergraduate law and economic students and, especially, as a general supplement to first year casebooks for law school students.


"As a witness to the rise of Law and Economics in the post-war United States, Professor Priest provides an elegantly written history of the big ideas that continue to inspire research and spark debate across established and emerging fields, from economics to public policy." — Marc D. Froese, Professor of Political Science, Burman University

"This book reviews the growth and influence of the field of law and economics from World War II to 1991. It is a remarkable intellectual history, that carefully dissects the respective contributions made by the prime movers of the field, how their approaches differed, and how they influenced each other." — Stephen J. Spurr, Professor of Economics, Wayne State University

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. The Early Development of the Functional Approach to Law 3. The Problems of the Depression and the Broader Acceptance of the Functional Approach to Law 4. The Birth of Modern Law and Economics as a Discipline 5. The Revolutionary Expansion of Law and Economics: Ronald H. Coase 6. Calabresi and the Economic Framework of The Costs of Accidents 7. Law and Economics Made Dominant: Richard A. Posner and Economic Analysis of Law 8. Coase, Calabresi, and Posner Compared 9. The Influence of Law and Economics on Regulation and Antitrust Law 10. Henry Manne and the Popular Expansion of Law and Economics 11. Epilogue: The John M. Olin Foundation and the Founding of the American Law & Economics Association

About the Author

George L. Priest is the Edward J. Phelps Professor of Law and Economics at Yale Law School.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / International / Economics
LAW / General
LAW / Legal Education
LAW / Legal History