NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Eric Helland

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Working Papers

February 2016Self-insuring against Liability Risk: Evidence from Physician Home Values in States with Unlimited Homestead Exemptions
with Anupam B. Jena, Dan P. Ly, Seth A. Seabury: w22031
When faced with financial uncertainty, rational agents have incentives to take steps ex ante to reduce the probability (self-protection) or size (self-insurance) of a loss. However, in the case of liability risk, especially physician responses to malpractice risk, most empirical analyses have focused exclusively on measuring self-protection. This paper studies whether physicians invest in self-insurance by exploring how they respond to policies that allow them to lower the financial cost of malpractice liability. Specifically, we test whether physicians exploit provisions of bankruptcy laws and adjust the value of their home purchases to protect assets from liability claims exceeding their malpractice policy limits. We find that in states with unlimited “homestead” exceptions—provisions ...
March 2014Unintended Consequences of Products Liability: Evidence from the Pharmaceutical Market
with Darius N. Lakdawalla, Anup Malani, Seth A. Seabury: w20005
In a complex economy, production is vertical and crosses jurisdictional lines. Goods are often produced by an upstream national or global firm and improved or distributed by local firms downstream. In this context, heightened products liability may have unintended consequences on product sales and consumer safety. Conventional wisdom holds that an increase in tort liability on the upstream firm will cause that firm to (weakly) increase investment in safety or disclosure. However, this may fail in the real-world, where upstream firms operate in many jurisdictions, so that the actions of a single jurisdiction may not be significant enough to influence upstream firm behavior. Even worse, if liability is shared between upstream and downstream firms, higher upstream liability may mechanica...

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