Quirino Camerlengo Lorenzo Rampa

Social Rights: a Law and Economics approach

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The current economic crisis has revived the interest in social rights. The steep rise in public expenditure of the past decades called for a rethinking of the welfare state. Therefore, social rights have now entered a new phase: from tools of social justice and equity to inefficient and expensive features of public intervention. In the past, social rights were subjected to a strict scrutiny of compatibility with individual freedoms and the Rechtsstaat. Today the main issue is their economic sustainability. However, from the point of view of their efficiency what matters is not just the cost of the rights but also the net social benefit they yield. This is what determines and maintains the support to their constitutional protection. Given the nature of the goods that ensure their enforcement, economic analysis can show that the public protection of social rights favours constitutional agreement on all fundamental rights, including individual freedoms, which would be arduous otherwise.


  • Constitution
  • Welfare State
  • Positive and Negative Rights
  • Social Contract


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