Law and Economics

Robert B. Cooter / Thomas Ulen  
Total pages
August 2013
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Law and Economics


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Law and economics has become a central course in U.S. legal education and for students majoring in topics like economics, political science, and philosophy. Cooter and Ulen provide a clear introduction to economic analysis and its application to legal rules and institutions that is accessible to any student who has taken principles of microeconomics.
The book’s structure is flexible, beginning with an introductory overview of economic tools followed by paired chapters in five core areas of law: property, contracts, torts, legal process, and crime. Students leave the course understanding how microeconomic theory can be used to critically evaluate law and public policy.


  • As the best-selling text in the market, the level and structure are accessible for most undergraduate courses. Two introductory chapters help orient students who have not taken microeconomics recently.
    • Chapter 2 offers a brief review of microeconomics theory.
    • Chapter 3 is an introduction to the law and the legal process for those who have had no formal legal training.
  • Five key areas of the law are covered: property, contracts, torts, legal process, and crime.
  • The unique paired-chapter organisation lends flexibility to professors. Each pair of chapters has one chapter that introduces an economic model and one chapter that applies the model to a specific area of law.
    • Chapters 4 and 5 focus onproperty law, including material on intellectual property and organisations-as-property.
    • Chapters 6 and 7 discuss contracts, covering incentives and the agency problem.
    • Chapters 8 and 9 on torts incorporate material on damages for incompensable losses.
    • Chapters 11 and 12 discuss crime and punishment with topics such as overcoming weakness of will and coordinating powers of criminal law.
  • Coverage of recent developments is expanded, including that of law and social norms, efficiency vs. equity, private disputes vs. tax-and-transfer, and behavioral law and economics.
  • Empirical literature and data expose students to the latest research in the field.
  • A clear writing style and extensive collection of applications
  • Questions are distributed throughout each chapter, testing students’ understanding as they move through the material.
  • Boxes provide real-world situations that illustrate key topics and connect students’ learning to everyday life.

New to this Edition


The Sixth Edition of Law and Economics 6e by Cooter & Ulen has been revised and updated to reflect the latest developments in law and economics. Major changes to the text are as follows:

  • Tables and graphs have been updated.
  • New boxes and suggested readings have been added throughout the text. Boxes provide real-world situations that illustrate key topics and connect students’ learning to everyday life.
  • Web Notes have been updated and added. This feature is located in each chapter and they closely link the text with relevant content on the Companion Website.
  • Additional information on liability and customs in trade can be found in Chapter 6, 'An Economic Theory of Tort Law'.
  • The explanation of contractual commitments through a better representation of the principal-agent problem is improved in Chapter 8, 'An Economic Theory of Contract Law'.
  • NEW material on lapses, vicarious liability, incomprehensible harms, punitive damages, mass torts, medical malpractice, and some behavioral aspects of contract remedies in Chapter 9, 'Topics in the Economics of Contract Law'
  • A new treatment of decision making by potential litigants and their lawyers, and new figures and decision trees can be found in Chapter 10, ' Topics in the Economics of the Legal Process'.
  • NEW! Combined material on the legal process and an updated empirical assessment of various aspects of legal disputes can be found in Chapter 11, 'Topics in the Economics of the Legal Process.'
  • Theoretical material on crime and punishment, updated and clarified in Chapter 12, 'An Economic Theory of Crime and Punishment.'

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: An Introduction to Law and Economics    
Chapter 2: A Brief Review of Microeconomic Theory  
Chapter 3: An Economic Theory of Property    
Chapter 4: Topics in the Economics of Property Law    
Chapter 5: An Economic Theory of Tort Law    
Chapter 6: Topics in the Economics of Tort Liability    
Chapter 7: An Economic Theory of Contract Law
Chapter 8: Topics in the Economics of Contract Law    
Chapter 9: An Economic Theory of the Legal Process    
Chapter 10: Topics in the Economics of the Legal Process
Chapter 11: An Economic Theory of Crime and Punishment    
Chapter 12: Topics in the Economics of Crime and Punishment