The John M. Olin Center

Paper Abstract

322. Eric Rasmusen, An Economic Approach to Adultery Law, 05/2001.

Abstract: A long-term relationship such as marriage will not operate efficiently without sanctions for misconduct, of which adultery is one example. Traditional legal sanctions can be seen as different combinations of various features, differing in who initiates punishment, whether punishment is just a transfer or has real costs, who gets the transfer or pays the costs, whether the penalty is determined ex ante or ex post, whether spousal rights are alienable, and who is punished. Three typical sanctions, criminal penalties for adultery, the tort of alienation of affections, and the self-help remedy of justification are formally modelled. The penalties are then discussed in a variety of specific applications to past and present Indiana law.

322: PDF