Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 5 No. 3 (Summer 1991)


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Product and Occupational Liability

Article Citation

Viscusi, W Kip. 1991. "Product and Occupational Liability." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 5(3): 71-91.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.5.3.71


Increased liability for risks posed by jobs and products has transformed the cost structure of job and product markets. Liability costs used to be an incidental expense; now they are a factor of substantial economic consequence. The costs associated with a more active economic role of liability are not necessarily undesirable. However, examination of the economic objectives of the liability system will indicate that the current structure is not ideal. Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of the emerging role of liability is that it has been contemporaneous with an expansion in governmental risk regulation. The subsequent sections explore the performance of product and occupational liability with respect to the objectives of efficient deterrence and insurance, in the context of seeking an optimal mix between legal and regulatory institutions.

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Viscusi, W. Kip (Duke U)

JEL Classifications

K13: Tort Law and Product Liability
J28: Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy


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