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42 Duke L.J. 557 (1992-1993)
Rules Versus Standards: An Economic Analysis

handle is hein.journals/duklr42 and id is 583 raw text is: RULES VERSUS STANDARDS:
This Article offers an economic analysis of the extent to
which legal commands should be promulgated as rules or stan-
dards. Two dimensions of the problem are emphasized. First, the
choice between rules and standards affects costs: Rules typically
are more costly than standards to create, whereas standards tend to
be more costly for individuals to interpret when deciding how to
act and for an adjudicator to apply to past conduct. Second, when
individuals can determine the application of rules to their contem-
plated acts more cheaply, conduct is more likely to reflect the
content of previously promulgated rules than of standards that will
be given content only after individuals act. The Article considers
how these factors influence the manner in which rules and stan-
dards should be designed, and explores the circumstances in which
rules or standards are likely to be preferable. The Article also
addresses the level of detail with which laws should be formulated
and applied, emphasizing how this question concerning the laws'
relative simplicity or complexity can be distinguished from that of
whether laws are given content ex ante (rules) or ex post (stan-
dards). In so doing, it illuminates concerns about the over- and
underinclusiveness of rules relative to standards.
t Professor, Harvard Law School and Research Associate, National Bureau of Eco-
nomic Research. I am grateful for comments from Lucian Bebchuk, James Boyle, Scott
Brewer, David Charny, Erwin Chemerinsky, Stephen Choi, Richard Fallon, Marcel Kahan,
Jeremy Paul, Richard Posner, Frederick Schauer, Steven Shavell, and participants in
workshops at the University of Chicago, University of Connecticut, and Harvard Universi-
ty law schools.

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