Law and Economics

Tag: Law and Economics

River Red

Some of you have certainly read about the mishap at the “abandoned” Gold King mine site in Colorado that left Animas River a peculiar shade of orange — here is a before and after picture that I nabbed from Reddit.

The basic story is that EPA is working to reclaim and shore up a historic mine site, and one of its contractors accidentally breached a dam that led to a spill of several million gallons of toxic water into the Animas River.  The High Country News tells us nine things we need to know about the spill.

In the department of self-promotion, I also used to spend time thinking about cleaning up hazardous waste sites, and recently did a Q&A with PERC about the problem of abandoned mines.   If you are interested in law & economics, or some of the knotty problems of environmental policy, consider taking a look.   The abandoned mines problem could use some fresh thinking, that’s for sure.

Economics Colloquium: Juvenile Justice

Jeffrey Shook from the University of Pittsburgh will be on campus next week to talk about his work on juveniles in the criminal justice system.  The talk, co-sponsored with Lawrence Scholars in Law program, will be Thursday, January 16 at 7 p.m. in the Warch Campus Cinema.  The talk title is “From Roper to Miller: Legal and Policy Implications of Recent Supreme Court Decisions on the Punishment of Juveniles.”

Professor Shook is an outstanding scholar and also committed to service, having won the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award from the University of Pittsburgh in 2013. 

He is a man of many talents, after received his degree in economics (!) from Grinnell College, he went on to earn a law degree from American University and a Ph.D. in social work and sociology from the University of Michigan. Acording to his bio:

His research examines the intersection of law, policy, and practice in the lives of children and youth, focusing on the transfer of juveniles to the adult criminal justice system, the administration of juvenile justice, the movement of youth across child and youth serving systems, and the experiences of youth “aging out” of the child welfare system. Jeff also is involved in efforts to end the sentencing of juveniles to life sentences without the opportunity for parole both in Pennsylvania and nationally.

He is a very busy guy that works on some fascinating issues, as this selection of his publications attests:

Visser, Joanna and Jeffrey J. Shook. 2013. The Supreme Court’s emerging jurisprudence on the punishment of juvenilesCourt Review Journal, 49(24-39).

Shook, Jeffrey J., Sara Goodkind, Ryan Pohlig, Lisa Schelbe, David Herring, and Kevin Kim. 2011. Patterns of mental health, substance abuse, and justice system involvement among youth aging out of the child welfare systemAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 81(420-432).  

Shook, Jeffrey J., Michael G. Vaughn, Sara Goodkind, and Heath Johnson. 2011.  An empirical portrait of youthful offenders who sell drugs.  Journal of Criminal Justice,33(224-231).

Shook, Jeffrey J. 2011.  Prosecutorial decisions to treat juveniles as adults: Intersections of individual and contextual characteristics. Criminal Law Bulletin,47(341-387).

Shook, Jeffrey J. and Sara Goodkind. 2009. Racial disproportionality in juvenile justice: The interaction of race and geography in pretrial detention for violent and serious offenders. Race and Social Problems, 1(257-66).

Shook, Jeffrey J. and Rosemary C. Sarri. 2008. Trends in the commitment of juvenile offenders to adult prisons: Toward an increased willingness to treat juveniles as adults? Wayne Law Review, 54(1725-65).

 See you Thursday.

Economics Colloquium

Mark Montgomery and Irene “Tinker” Powell will be on campus this week to deliver the next Economics Colloquium address, “Baby Markets: Thinking the Unthinkable in International Adoption.” The talk is Thursday at 4:30 in Steitz 102.  This is quite a topic, where the rules of the game have pretty significant distributional consequences, and it will be interesting to see how this sorts out.

Montgomery and Powell are professors at Grinnell College, and are well known for lighter work, including “Should Economists Marry Economists?” and their economics murder mystery, Theoretically Dead.*


Baby Markets: Thinking the Unthinkable in International Adoption

Mark Montgomery and Irene Powell

Grinnell College

Adoption laws, national and international, outlaw payments to families for relinquishing their children. This does not stop “baby selling,” but rather moves it into the hands of criminals. History suggests that restricting mutually beneficial exchanges can make worse the problems it is supposed to solve. Is it time to think the unthinkable in international adoption?

The talk examines how current adoption laws create incentives for fraud and other forms of abuse, identifies “moral hazards” abuse created by the legal structure of adoption, and explores how relaxing restrictions on compensating birth mothers would change incentives and behavior of birth parents, adoptive parents and adoption facilitators.



*As far as I know, they are both economics professors, though the Publisher’s blurb says one is a philosophy professor.  I suppose teaching labor economics long enough can turn anyone somewhat philosophical.

Advanced Topics in Law and Economics

Professor Georgiou will be offering ECON 495, Advanced Topics in Law and Economics, this fall on Monday, Wednesday, Friday in the 3:10 to 4:20 time slot.  The prerequisite for the course is ECON 300 or consent of the instructor.  If you have had ECON 271 or ECON 280, this might be an extremely attractive follow on.

Here is the teaser:

Should a grandson that killed his grandfather be allowed to be his heir? Should theft be punishable by death? Why is blackmail illegal? Should smoking be allowed in bars? Should a bystander be punished for not rescuing a drowning person? What is the purpose of limited liability for shareholders? Why is polygamy not allowed?

These questions seem to touch very distinct areas of the law. But there is one and (maybe) only one way to go about answering all of them: Economic Analysis! In this class we will show that economic efficiency is what makes a good law and that laws that don’t make sense can be critiqued with economic arguments. Law and economics is a class that expands the scope of economics and limits the arbitrariness of the law.

Registration resumes in a couple of days, so please stand up and be counted.

Special Econ Tea Talk

George Georgiou from the University of California at Santa Cruz will be on campus Friday to give a talk, “An Introduction to Law & Economics.”  Mr. Georgiou is completing his Ph.D. in international economics, with a specialization in applied micro and law & economics.  His work focuses on whether post-incarceration supervision levels affect recidivism.

Mr. Georgiou will give the talk in Briggs 223 at 1:50.

The usual delicious Econ Tea accouterments should be available.