co-authored with Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci (University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Law)
Abstract: We show how legal uncertainty can enable simple legal standards to produce socially useful differentiation in incentives that better accommodates heterogeneity. First, legal uncertainty smooths out the discontinuities in incentives that coarse legal standards would otherwise produce. Second, individuals rationally form beliefs about legal standards in part by projecting their own circumstances. We apply our analysis to a range of issues in legal design, including the choice between rules and standards, the optimal degree of legal complexity, and the choice between “sanctions” (e.g., the negligence rule) and “prices” (e.g., strict liability).