Submitted by Daniel Pi on Sun, 11/29/2015 - 13:52

imageThis list ranks the most cited papers in Law and Economics. It was compiled using statitics from Google Scholar, which is admittedly a very crude metric (e.g., Google Scholar seems to count citations from unpublished preprints). Nevertheless, absent a significant investment in time and resources, it would be difficult to obtain more precise numbers. Additionally, we have no reason to think that the inaccuracies of Google Scholar citation counts will skew the results, and the inaccuracies should cancel out if given more precise measures. We do not think that more precise measures would necessarily change the order of ranks substantially, and it would be surprising to discover a paper not presently on the list, which would be included if more accurate measures were introduced. Moreover, the list seems to agree (more or less) with Fred Shapiro's ranking of the most cited law papers of all time, corroborating our results.

Some discretion was required in determining what ought (and ought not) to count as a Law & Economics paper. This is obviously no trivial matter, and requires some subject judgment about where the boundaries of the field fall. In general, we have avoided including any paper better characterized as economics with incidental legal implications, as well as law papers that only incidentally involve some acknowledgment, mention, or use of economic ideas. Clearly, there is room for disagreement in some cases, though we have attempted to filter the data in a way that we think the "mainstream" of Law and Economics scholars would find unobjectionable.

The counts were retrieved on Saturday, Nov. 28 2015. We will update the list approximately yearly.

Title Author Citation Cite Count
The Problem of Social Cost Ronald Coase 3 Journal of Law and Economics 1 (1960) 26416
Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach Gary S. Becker 76 Journal of Political Economy 169-217 (1968) 12546
Property Rules, Liability Rules, and Inalienability: One View of the Cathedral Guido Calabresi, A. Douglas Melamed 85 Harvard Law Review 1089-1128 (1972) 4895
Mergers and the Market for Corporate Control Henry G. Manne 73 Journal of Political Economy 110-120 (1965) 3481
Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: The Case of Divorce Robert H. Mnookin, Lewis Kornhauser 88 Yale Law Journal 950-997 (1979) 2990
Property, Utility, and Fairness: Comments on the Ethical Foundations of "Just Compensation" Law Frank I. Michelman 80 Harvard Law Review 1165-1258 (1967) 2801
A Behavioral Approach to Law and Economics Christine Jolls, Cass R. Sunstein, Richard Thaler 50 Stanford Law Review 1471-1550 (1998) 2468
Theories of Economic Regulation Richard A. Posner 5 Bell Journal of Economics and Management Sciences 335 (1974) 2215
The Selection of Disputes for Litigation George L. Priest, Benjamin Klein 13 Journal of Legal Studies 1-55 (1984) 2192
Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers Gary S. Becker, George J. Stigler 3 Journal of Legal Studies 1-18 (1974) 2080
Filling Gaps in Incomplete Contracts: An Economic Theory of Default Rules Ian Ayres, Robert Gertner 99 Yale Law Journal 87-130 (1989). 1958
An Economic Analysis of Copyright Law William M. Landes, Richard A. Posner Journal of Legal Studies 325-363 (1989) 1822
The Social Cost of Monopoly and Regulation Richard A. Posner 83 Journal of Political Economy 807-828 (1975) 1814
Rules Versus Standards: An Economic Analysis Louis Kaplow 42 Duke Law Journal 557-629 (1992) 1712
The Proper Role of a Target's Management in Responding to a Tender Offer Frank H. Easterbrook, Daniel R. Fischel 94 Harvard Law Review 1161-1204 (1981) 1581
Some Thoughts on Risk Distribution and the Law of Torts Guido Calabresi 70 Yale Law Journal 499-553 (1961) 1481
Interest Groups in American Public Law Cass R. Sunstein 38 Stanford Law Review 29-87 (1985) 1378