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The Republic of Beliefs: A New Approach to Law and Economics

Kaushik Basu

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Princeton University Pres
15 May 2018
Business & Economics; Economic theory & philosophy; Law & society
A leading economist offers a radically new approach to the economic analysis of the law In The Republic of Beliefs, Kaushik Basu, one of the world's leading economists, argues that the traditional economic analysis of the law has significant flaws and has failed to answer certain critical questions satisfactorily. Why are good laws drafted but never implemented? When laws are unenforced, is it a failure of the law or the enforcers? And, most important, considering that laws are simply words on paper, why are they effective? Basu offers a provocative alternative for how the relationship between economics and real-world law enforcement can be understood.

Basu summarizes standard, neoclassical law and economics before looking at the weaknesses underlying the discipline. Bringing modern game theory to bear, he develops a focal point approach, modeling not just the self-interested actions of the citizens who must follow laws but also the functionaries of the state-the politicians, judges, and bureaucrats-enforcing them. He demonstrates the connections between social norms and the law and shows how well-conceived ideas can change and benefit human behavior. For example, bribe givers and takers will collude when they are treated equally under the law. And in food support programs, vouchers should be given directly to the poor to prevent shop owners from selling subsidized rations on the open market. Basu provides a new paradigm for the ways that law and economics interact-a framework applicable to both less-developed countries and the developed world.

Highlighting the limits and capacities of law and economics, The Republic of Beliefs proposes a fresh way of thinking that will enable more effective laws and a fairer society.
By:   Kaushik Basu
Imprint:   Princeton University Pres
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 155mm, 
ISBN:   9780691177687
ISBN 10:   0691177686
Pages:   256
Publication Date:   15 May 2018
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

Kaushik Basu is professor of economics and the C. Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University. He was previously chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank and chief economic advisor of the Government of India. His books include Beyond the Invisible Hand (Princeton) and Prelude to Political Economy.

Reviews for The Republic of Beliefs: A New Approach to Law and Economics

The book resolves several conundrums faced by the existing L and E discipline. . . . the book provides a rich framework that can be used by the researchers and policymakers to address the outstanding issues. ---Ram Singh, Indian Economic Review In this important book which is most lucidly written, Basu shows that a game-theory paradigm can lead us to ask critically important questions about what it is that might make people observe the law. ---Robert Lee, Journal of Law and Society One of the most interesting and exhilarating books I've read for ages. . . . This is a beautifully written book, very profound. . . . The Republic of Beliefs offers a distinctive and revealing perspective on public policy, and couldn't be more timely. ---Diane Coyle, Enlightenment Economics One of Diane Coyle's Best Economic Books of 2018 An unqualified success. . . . the argument in its totality is overwhelming, and it is only to be hoped that practitioners of the discipline of law and economics will be willing to bring its suggestions to fruition. ---Mario Ferrero, Journal of Economics


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