Influence of Economics on Antitrust Law, The

Competition Policy and Antitrust

Article Snapshot


William E. Kovacic


Economic Inquiry, Vol. 30, 1992


This paper describes how economists influence competition (antitrust) law.

Policy Relevance

Competition law changes to adopt new economic ideas.

Main Points

  • Antitrust laws like the Sherman Act are quite ambiguous. Courts look to economists for help understanding how the law is to be applied.
    • U.S. courts are decentralized, allowing for judges to explore different concepts.

  • Individual judges’ preferences and the political environment play a significant role in how new economic concepts enter the law. Legal scholars who adapt economics to the law might have more influence than academic economists.

  • Economists are highly paid to testify in competition cases, and this might make their views less objective.

  • Within government agencies the influence of economics depends on the economics bureaus and leadership.

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