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David S. Abrams

Professor of Law, Business Economics, and Public Policy

David Abrams

David Abrams is one of the leading young economists working in empirical law and economics. His work strives to understand and measure how individuals respond to incentives in various legal contexts. Continue reading…

Articles and Book Chapters

The Law and Economics of Stop-and-Frisk, 46 LOY. U. CHI. L. J. 369 (2014).

How Do We Decide How Long to Incarcerate?, in EMPIRICAL LEGAL ANALYSIS: ASSESSING THE PERFORMANCE OF LEGAL INSTITUTIONS (Yun-chien Chang, ed., Routledge 2013).

Putting the Trial Penalty on Trial, 51 DUQUESNE L. REV. 777 (2013).

Poisoning the Next Apple: The America Invents Act and Individual Inventors, 65 STAN L. REV. 517 (2013) (with P. Wagner).

The Imprisoner's Dilemma: A Cost-Benefit Approach to Incarceration, 98 IOWA L. REV. 905 (2013).

A Market for Justice: A First Empirical Look at Third Party Litigation Funding, 15 U. PA. J. BUS. L. 1075 (2013) (with Daniel L. Chen).

Estimating the Deterrent Effect of Incarceration using Sentencing Enhancements, 4 AM. ECON. J.: APPLIED ECON. 32 (2012).

Do Judges Vary in Their Treatment of Race?, 41 J. LEGAL STUD. 347 (2012) (with M. Bertrand and S. Mullainathan).

Is Pleading Really a Bargain?, 8 J. EMPIRICAL LEGAL STUD. 200 (2011).

Third-Party Litigation Funding, 34 REG. 3 (Winter 2011-12).

Optimal Bail and the Value of Freedom: Evidence from the Philadelphia Bail Experiment, 49 ECON. INQUIRY 750-770 (2011) (with C. Rohlfs).

Did TRIPS Spur Innovation? An Analysis of Patent Duration and Incentives to Innovate, 157 U. PA. L. REV. 1613 (2009).

The Luck of the Draw: Using Random Case Assignment to Investigate Attorney Ability, 74 U. CHI. L. REV. 1145 (2007) (with A. Yoon).

Present status of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS II) experiment, 329 PHYSICA B- CONDENSED MATTER 1590 (2003) (with D. Akerib, et al).

Exclusion Limits on the WIMP-nucleon cross section from the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, 66 PHYSICAL REVIEW D 122003-1-35 (2002) (with D. Akerib, et al).

Deployment of the first CDMS II ZIP detectors at the Stanford Underground Facility, 110 NUCLEAR PHYSICS B, PROCEEDINGS SUPPLEMENTS 100 (2002) (with T. Saab, et al).

More publications can be found here.

Working Papers

COVID and Crime: An Early Empirical Look (November 2, 2020), U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 20-49. (forthcoming)
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Patent Value and Citations: Creative Destruction or Strategic Disruption? (December 4, 2018), U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 13-23 (with U. Akcigit and J. Popadak) (forthcoming)
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Do More Eyes on the Road Mean Better Driving? A Field Study (with L. Strahilevitz). (forthcoming)

Building Criminal Capital vs. Specific Deterrence: The Effect of Incarceration Length on Recidivism (forthcoming)
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Labor Market Experiments in a Virtual World (with A. Cohn, E. Fehr). (forthcoming)

When Docs Snooze Do You Lose? Medical Resident Work Hours and Patient Outcomes. (forthcoming)

Understanding High Skill Worker Productivity Using Random Case Assignment in a Public Defender's Office (with A. Yoon), 3RD ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON EMPIRICAL LEGAL STUDIES, Cornell U. L. Sch. (SSRN: 2008).
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Research Areas

  • Law and Economics
  • Intellectual Property
  • Criminal Law
  • Patent Law
  • Economics of Crime
  • Finance
  • Virtual Economies


Penn Law – Professor (2013- ) Assistant Professor (2008- )

Wharton School – Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy (2013- ) Assistant Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy (2008- )

Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, 2012 – present

Faculty Affiliate, LDI Center for Health Incentives, 2009 - 2012

University of Chicago – John M. Olin Fellow in Law and Economics (2006–08)

D.E. Shaw and Co. – Quantitative Analyst and Trader (1998–99)

Professional Activities

President, Society for Empirical Legal Studies (2012 - present) Vice President, Society for Empirical Legal Studies (2011 - 2012)

Member: American Economic Association, American Law and Economics Association, American Physical Society, Econometric Society

Referee: American Economic Review, American Law and Economics Review, Economic Journal, Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Journal of Human Resources, Journal of Law and Economics, Journal of Legal Analysis, Journal of Legal Studies, Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Review of Economics and Statistics, Review of Economic Studies


  • Introduction to Intellectual Property Law and Policy
  • Analytical Methods in Law
  • Law and Economics
  • Intellectual Property

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