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When Laws Backfire: Unintended Consequences of Public Policy
American Behavioral Scientist (2004)
  • Roger Roots, Jarvis Christian College
Why is it that so many laws perpetually fall short of their intended goals? Why haven’t humanity’s greatest minds managed to solve basic social ills? This article amasses considerable evidence suggesting that (a) law is inherently incapable of producing major social change because legal restrictions unsettle social equilibria and generate counteractions and (b) the subconscious purpose behind many laws is the promotion of social solidarity for its own sake. The author concludes that laws and the politics that forge them are essentially religious practices that have little basis in rational analysis. Thus can be explained both the perpetual failure of many laws and their irreconcilable popularity.
  • Unintended Consequences
Publication Date
July, 2004
Citation Information
Roger Roots. "When Laws Backfire: Unintended Consequences of Public Policy" American Behavioral Scientist Vol. 47 Iss. 11 (2004)
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