Product Liability, Research and Development, and Innovation
Viscusi, W. Kip
Moore, Michael J., 1953-
Product liability ideally should promote efficient levels of product safety, but misdirected liability efforts may depress beneficial innovations. This paper examines these competing effects of liability costs on product R & D intensity and new product introductions by manufacturing firms. At low to moderate levels of expected liability costs, there is a positive effect of liability costs on product innovation. At very high levels of liability costs, the effect is negative. At the sample mean, liability costs increase R & D intensity by 15 percent. The greater linkage of these effects to product R & D rather than process R & D is consistent with the increased prominence of the design defect doctrine.