An ALEA Report & Some Love for the Theorists …

Josh Wright —  8 May 2006

I’m back from ALEA. I had a great time. Geoff and I hosted the first annual TOTM happy hour, I presented my paper (“Slotting Contracts and Consumer Welfare” … download it, you might like it), had the opportunity to meet a number of people that I had never met or knew only through blog interaction, and catch up with friends. I also saw some presentations and read a number of very interesting papers.

The blawgosphere reaction to ALEA suggests that the empirical papers stole the show. Bill Henderson nicely summarizes some of his favorite empirical papers from the conference. Fred Tung (Emory, and guesting over at the Glom) hypothesizes that the increasing share of empirical papers at ALEA is perhaps motivated by an the movement of JD/PhD types into law schools rather than economics departments. Fred also shares some thoughts on a few corporate law papers at ALEA with empirical components. Fred and Bill both do a nice job of highlighting some of their favorite empirical papers from the conference, and my own instinct is to agree that the share of empirical papers is indeed increasing relative “pure modeling” contributions. All of that said, and not to take anything away from the number of very well done empirical papers, I thought it might be nice to give a little bit of attention to the theorists who seem to have been lost in the shuffle.

In that spirit, here are a few papers with formal (read: modeling) theoretical contributions (in no particular order) that I found interesting, and either saw the presentation or read the paper prior to ALEA:

Abe Wickelgren, The Economics of Constitutional Rights and Voting Rules (January 2005 draft available here).

Philippe Aghion, Academic Freedom, Private-Sector Focus, and the Process of Innovation.

W. Bentlay Macloud, Reputations, Relationships, and the Enforcement of Incomplete Contracts.

Alan Schwartz, The Law and Economics of Preliminary Agreements.

Gillian Hadfield, The Quality of Law in Civil Code and Common Law Regimes: Judicial Incentives, Legal Human Capital and the Evolution of Law.

Kathyrn Spier, Strategic Judgment Proofing.

Not to ignore the empirical contributions altogether, I thought I would also mention a few empirical endeavors that struck my fancy but were not mentioned by Fred or Bill:

Jonathan Klick, Bruce Kobayashi, and Larry Ribstein, Incomplete Contracts and Opportunism in Franchise Contracts (exploiting changes in state franchise termination laws to demonstrate that restrictions on franchisor termination rights are likely to reduce the joint surplus of the franchisor and franchisee).

Betsey Stevenson, Beyond the Classroom: Using Title IX to Measure the Return to High School Sports (using the state level variation in boys’ athletic participation prior to Title IX compliance efforts to instrument for girls’ participation in the 70s and concluding that a 10% increase in girls’ participation rates generates a 1% increase in female college attendance rates and a 1-2% increase in female labor force participation).