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14-06-2017 | Issue 1/2018

Review of Industrial Organization 1/2018

Is “Delitigation” Associated with a Change in Product Safety? The Case of Vaccines

Journal:
Review of Industrial Organization > Issue 1/2018
Author:
Gayle DeLong

Abstract

This study investigates whether the threat of litigation induces firms to provide safer products in a regulated industry. I analyze whether removing litigation risk or “delitigation” of product liability is associated with a change in the safety of vaccines. Using U.S. nationwide and state-level data, I find that vaccines that were licensed after legislation that preempted most product liability lawsuits are associated with a significantly higher incidence of adverse events than were vaccines that were licensed under a previous regime that permitted consumers to sue. Oaxaca decomposition suggests that the difference is due to the policy change. The results suggest that product safety deteriorates when consumers are no longer able to sue manufacturers.

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