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Legal and Regulatory Interventions

The allocation of scarce resources is generally left to decentralized market forces and autonomous citizens. But markets sometimes have serious imperfections, and humans exhibit various cognitive biases. Intervention by the state seeks to avoid or mitigate the adverse outcomes of such imperfections. Intervention can take various forms, including taxes or subsidies, agency regulation, and legal rules that seek to improve the compatibility of individual incentives with social welfare (or with citizens’ ex post evaluations of their own decisions). However, interventions in practice may fail to improve outcomes, either through inadequate design or other challenges.

This concentration focuses on an understanding of the analytical and empirical relationships between imperfect market or cognitive processes and imperfect state interventions. The concentration consists of courses from economics, law, management science and engineering, psychology and other programs dealing with industrial organization, antitrust, utility regulation, consumer protection, social psychology, contracts, administrative law and specific regulatory regimes. 

The individual courses should be cumulative or complementary with respect to the student’s interests and/or career plan, which must be stated in writing prior to approval of the elective plan, and be approved in advance by a member of the Public Policy-affiliated faculty and by the director of the program.

Students completing this concentration have employment opportunities with local, state, federal, and international organizations and regulatory agencies and with the firms dealing with such agencies, including consultancies.

The list of graduate level gateway and elective concentration courses may also be found in the Stanford Bulletin. Note that this is not an exhaustive list; students may select other courses for their concentration with the approval of their faculty adviser. 

Gateway Courses for Legal and Regulatory Intervention Concentration*

ECON 157. Imperfect Competition
LAW 7001 (formerly LAW 238). Administrative Law
NBIO 201. Social and Ethical Issues in the Neurosciences


BIOMEDIN 432. Analysis of Costs, Risks, and Benefits of Health Care
CEE 171. Environmental Planning Methods (not offered in 2018-19)
CEE 175A. The California Coast: Science, Policy, and Law (not offered in 2018-19)
ECON 111. Money and Banking
ECON 126. Economics of Health and Medical Care
ECON 250. Environmental Economics (not offered in 2017-18)
ECON 251. Natural Resources and Energy Economics
LAW 1001. Antitrust 
LAW 2505. Land Use
LAW 3003. FDA Regulation of Health Care
MS&E 243. Energy and Environmental Policy Analysis
MS&E 256. Technology Assessment and Regulation of Medical Devices
MS&E 330. Law, Order & Algorithms
PSYCH 199. Temptations and Self Control  
PSYCH 232. Brain and Decision Making
PUBLPOL 231. Political Economy of Health Care in the United States

*Gateway courses may vary year to year based on availability.