Mechanism Choice

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The most up-to-date version of this piece can be found in the Duke Law Scholarship

forthcoming in, Public Choice and Public Law (Daniel A. Farber & Anne Joseph O'Connell eds., Elgar forthcoming 2009)


This paper is a draft of a chapter for a forthcoming book, Public Choice and Public Law, edited by Daniel Farber and Anne Joseph O'Connell, to be published by Edward Elgar. This chapter reviews the literature on the selection of regulatory policy instruments, from both normative and positive perspectives. It first reviews the mechanism design literature to identify normative objectives in selecting among the menu or toolbox of policy instruments. The chapter then discusses the public choice and positive political theory literatures and the variety of models developed to attempt to predict the actual selection of alternative policy instruments. It begins with simpler early models focusing on interest group politics and proceeds to more complicated models that incorporate both supply and demand for policy, the role of policy entrepreneurs, behavioral and cognitive choice, and public perceptions and mass politics. It compares these theories to empirical experience. The chapter examines literature in law, economics, political science, and related fields, and it draws examples from US, European, and international regulation. It concludes with suggestions for future research.

Date of Authorship for this Version



policy instruments, empirical research, public choice, instrument choice