Droit, économie et comportement: fondements historiques et analyse expérimentale

par Rustam Romaniuc

Projet de thèse en Sciences économiques

Sous la direction de Alain Marciano.

Thèses en préparation à Montpellier en cotutelle avec l'Université de Turin , dans le cadre de École doctorale Economie Gestion de Montpellier (2015-.... ; Montpellier) , en partenariat avec LAMETA - Laboratoire Montpelliérain d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée (laboratoire) depuis le 01-09-2013 .


  • Résumé

    L'une des hypothèses fondamentales en analyse économique du droit est que la différence entre l'intérêt personnel et l'intérêt collectif peut être réduite grâce des incitations monétaires. La motivation derrière les comportements pro-sociaux est pourtant plus complexe. L'enjeu de cette thèse est de mettre en perspective l'idée selon laquelle le droit peut s'appuyer sur les motivations matérielles des individus pour changer leur comportement. Ensuite, nous mettons en avant les détérminants hétérogènes de la motivation qui ouvrent la réflexion sur le design de schémas incitatifs plus efficaces, notamment en tenant compte de la motivation sociale et de celle intrinsèque (personnelle).

  • Titre traduit

    Law, economics and behavior: historical foundations and experimental insights


  • Résumé

    Modern public economics, such as formalized by Paul Samuelson (1954), assumes a self-centered individual seeking to maximize his own utility by allocating his income between private and public consumption. With respect to private consumption, a well-known result in economic theory is that the market mechanism can achieve an optimal allocation of resources without any third party intervention. Rational self-interested agents are motivated to signal their true marginal willingness to pay for any private good so that the optimality condition is realized. However, for public goods, defined as non-rivalrous, Samuelson's seminal work shows that “no decentralized pricing system can serve to determine optimally these levels of collective consumption” (388). As Samuelson noted, “it is in the selfish interest of each person to give false signals, to pretend to have less interest in a given collective consumption activity than he really has” (388–89). Underproduction of public goods is thus inevitable. As pointed out by Cornes and Sandler (1996), Samuelson's conclusion can be generalized to settings where private and social returns differ – that is, Samuelson's result applies whenever there are external effects. It results then that some kind of (coercive) mechanisms need to be designed to incentivize people to produce and consume optimal quantities of goods, under or over supplied by the market. Legal rules are generally used when the objective is to align individual with social welfare. Whenever a difference exists between private and social returns, then, according to economics principles, legal rules should be adopted or adapted so as to minimize this difference (see Posner, 1972 for a general discussion of legal rules as incentive mechanisms for internalization of externalities). Legal rules act as prices constraining (through sticks) or encouraging (through carrots) a given type of behavior. Legal intervention is therefore one of the main means to make each person fully accountable of the social consequences of his/her actions. On the other hand, it is being increasingly argued that men and women systematically and significantly deviate from the selfish model depicted by the standard economics and often act in the social interest without regard to any form of compensation or threat of punishment (see Deci, 1975; Dawes and Thaler, 1988; Meier, 2006, for a literature review). Some economists have furthermore argued that externally imposed bounties or threats have the opposite effect to the one expected by the standard model of sticks and carrots. That is, trying to minimize the difference between private and social returns by designing external incentives (i.e. laws) will generally undermine cooperative behavior. This is so because people are intrinsically motivated to behave pro-socially and any interference through extrinsic incentives moves them away from the cooperative equilibrium (see Frey, 1997; Kreps, 1997; Gneezy and Rustichini, 2000; Bohnet et al., 2001; Bénabou and Tirole, 2003). Thus, two conflicting theories of human behavior provide two opposite views on the role of legal intervention in guaranteeing cooperation in social dilemmas settings. Should then public authorities make explicit decisions about individuals' collective consumption and production schedules by computing rewards and damages to be paid? Or, alternatively, should individuals be counted on to solve social dilemmas they face by voluntarily engaging in pro-social behavior and restraining from anti-social acts? More generally, can we identify a theoretically optimal domain where pro-social concerns and the law would be advantageous to be employed jointly, or where solely pro-social concerns (alternatively, the law) could be counted on to allocate optimally individual efforts from which “others” may also benefit? These questions, besides the theoretical curiosities they raise, have also important implications for the organization of major activities in our modern societies, such as the provision, consumption and preservation of cultural and environmental goods. These two types of goods are generally defined as impure public goods where rational decentralized actions are expected to lead to some kind of Samuelsonian tragedy (see Frischmann, 2012). A number of supply (non-full appropriability) and demand (free-riding) characteristics may indeed call for the design of legal rewards or fines to guarantee an optimal level of cultural and environmental goods available in society. At the same time, experimental law and economics scholarship suggests an alternative solution. That is, according to this latter strand of research, public authorities' focus should be on priming people's internal motivations instead of changing the legal rules. It is thus necessary to answer the questions asked above in order to provide a better understanding of the role of laws and pro-social behavior in the allocation of collective resources, such as cultural and environmental goods. Our main objective is (i) to theoretically investigate how laws and pro-social behavior can, together or separately, alleviate market's undersupply of resources with public goods characteristics, and to what extent they may do so; (ii) to experimentally confront the theoretical findings with individual behavior in laboratory; and (iii) to inspect whether current European environmental and cultural regulatory policy is congruent with an egoistic or socially oriented model of man, and what these regulations could gain from a better informed model of human behavior. The thesis will be organized as follows. In the first chapter, we will investigate from a history of political economy perspective, the incorporation of pro-social concerns into the economic analysis of law together with the implications for the optimal regulation of conduct where unselfishness is assumed to play a major role. It is true that the literature on external versus internal motivations has substantially contributed to our understanding of alternative institutional arrangements within which social cooperation is achieved. However, this literature treats the determination of the institutional framework for socially optimal collective choices as a post-1980s phenomenon. The problem, moreover, remains isolated from the more general literature on externalities. The first chapter will be a step toward ending this isolation. Chapter 2 will develop an analytical framework to facilitate deeper understanding of the conditions under which external regulation of pro-social conduct is necessary and when it is not. Finally, the two last chapters will deal with applying the analytical scheme to inspecting individual choices regarding the consumption, production and preservation of cultural and environmental goods. References: Bénabou, R. and J. Tirole. 2002. Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation. Review of Economic Studies 70: 489–520. Bohnet, T., B. S. Frey, and S. Huck. 2001. More Order with Less Law: On Contract Enforcement, Trust, and Crowding. American Political Science Review 95(1): 131–144. Cornes, R. and T. Sandler. 1996. The Theory of Externalities, Public Goods, and Club Goods. Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition. Dawes, R. M. and R. Thaler. 1988. Anomalies: Cooperation. Journal of Economic Perspectives 2(3): 187–197. Deci, E. L. 1975. Intrinsic Motivation. New York: Plenum Press. Frey, B. S. 1997. A Constitution for Knaves Crowds out Civic Virtues. Economic Journal 107(443): 1043–1053. Frischmann, B. M. 2012. Infrastructure: The Social Value of Shared Resources. Oxford University Press. Gneezy, U. and A. Rustichini. 2000. A Fine is a Price. Journal of Legal Studies 29(1): 1–18. Kreps, D. M. 1997. Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives. American Economic Review 87(2): 359–364. Meier, S. 2006. A Survey of Economic Theories and Field Evidence on Pro-Social Behavior. Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Working Papers No. 06-6. Posner, R. A. 1972. Economic Analysis of Law. Boston: Little, Brown. Samuelson, P. 1954. The Pure Theory of Public Expenditure. The Review of Economics and Statistics 36(4): 387–389.