Sam Peltzman

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Sam Peltzman is the Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is an expert on regulation and voting behavior and author of Political Participation and Government Regulation (University of Chicago Press, 1998).

Sam Peltzman is one of the few economists, and probably the only regulatory economist, to have an effect named after him — the “Peltzman effect.” The Peltzman effect arises when people adjust their behavior to a regulation in ways that counteract the intended effect of the regulation. So, for example, when the government passes a seatbelt law, some drivers may respond by driving less safely. It turns out that the Peltzman effect has widespread application and has spawned, like much of Professor Peltzman’s other work, a veritable cottage industry for economists.

The Peltzman effect is the hypothesized tendency of people to react to a safety regulation by increasing other risky behavior, offsetting some or all of the benefit of the regulation.


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