European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 65–76 | Cite as

Law, economics and Calabresi on the future of law and economics

  • Alain Marciano
  • Giovanni Battista RamelloEmail author


There exists a distinction between ‘law and economics’ and the ‘economic analysis of law’. The former, corresponding to Coase’s approach, consists in taking legal rules into account insofar as they influence economic activities. The latter, associated to Posner’s name, consists in using economics to analyze legal problems. Methodologically speaking, if one admits that the economic analysis of law consists in using economic tools to analyze legal problems, Calabresi’s own work must be classified as such. However, Calabresi has always insisted that his own approach differs from Posner’s economic analysis of law. In this paper, we take the opportunity of Calabresi’s new book—The Future of Law and Economics—to revisit Calabresi’s approach to law and economics. In his book, Calabresi explains that the economic analysis of law is unsatisfactory because economics is too narrow. He insists on the need to amplify economic analysis by: first, adopting a more realistic approach à la Coase; second, taking merit goods into account; and third, including individuals’ propensity to be altruistic. We analyze these three aspects and show that it leads to a certain ambiguity in terms of the distinction between ‘law and economics’ and the ‘economic analysis of law’.


Buchanan Calabresi Coase Posner Economic analysis of law Law and economics Merit goods Altruism Political economy 

JEL Classification

A12 B2 B31 K0 



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MontpellierMontpellierFrance
  2. 2.Università del Piemonte OrientaleAlessandriaItaly

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