By Frank B. Cross. Full text here.
Claims that tort law is hampering the American economy are common and have produced various forms of tort reform legislation. Yet there is very little economic research on the consequences of existing tort law doctrines. Theoretically, at least, tort law can be economically beneficial. Two state-specific measures have been produced to measure the effects of tort law: the Chamber of Commerce measure of business perceptions and the Pacific Research Institute measure of the actual content of tort law doctrine. Both measures were tested against numerous economic outcomes. The two do not correlate with one another, nor do they show a strong association with most economic variables. However, there is a strong association between more pro-plaintiff tort law and higher recent economic growth. This result should dispel concern about the potential negative economic effects of tort litigation.