The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Anti-trust Enforcement

  • Joseph E. Harrington
Reference work entry


This article explores the enforcement of those laws intended to promote competitive markets through the prohibition of certain practices such as price-fixing, welfare-reducing mergers, and monopolization. The discovery and prosecution of violations are examined, including the role of leniency programmes. The determination of penalties is investigated with an assessment of their relationship to optimal penalties. Enforcement policy is found to vary over time and its determinants are reviewed. Finally, the efficacy of enforcement is assessed.


Antitrust enforcement Antitrust penalties Cartels Collusion Corporate Leniency Program Price fixing 

JEL Classifications

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.



I appreciate the comments of Vivek Ghosal.


  1. Baker, J. 2003. The case for antitrust enforcement. Journal of Economic Perspectives 17(4): 27–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Block, M., and J. Feinstein. 1986. The spillover effect of antitrust enforcement. The Review of Economics and Statistics 68: 122–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Block, M., F. Nold, and J. Sidak. 1981. The deterrent effect of antitrust enforcement. Journal of Political Economy 89: 429–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bryant, P., and E. Eckard. 1991. Price fixing: the probability of getting caught. The Review of Economics and Statistics 73: 531–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Connor, J. 2004. Effectiveness of antitrust sanctions on modern international cartels. Working paper. Purdue University.Google Scholar
  6. Connor, J., and R. Lande. 2005. How high do cartels raise prices? Implications for optimal cartel fines. Tulane Law Review 80: 513–570.Google Scholar
  7. Crandall, R., and C. Winston. 2003. Does antitrust policy improve consumer welfare? Assessing the evidence. Journal of Economic Perspectives 17(4): 3–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Feinberg, R.M. 1984. Strategic and deterrent pricing responses to antitrust investigations. International Journal of Industrial Organization 2: 75–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gallo, J., K. Dau–Schmidt, J. Craycraft, and C. Parker. 2000. Department of Justice antitrust enforcement, 1955–1997: An empirical study. Review of Industrial Organization 17: 75–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ghosal, V. 2004. Regime shifts in antitrust. Working paper. Georgia Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  11. Ghosal, V., and J. Gallo. 2001. The cyclical behavior of the Department of Justice’s antitrust enforcement activity. International Journal of Industrial Organization 19: 27–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Harrington, J. Jr. 2005. Optimal corporate leniency programs. Working paper. Johns Hopkins University.Google Scholar
  13. Harrington, J. Jr. 2006. Detecting cartels. In Handbook of antitrust economics, ed. P. Buccirossi. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  14. Kwoka, J. 1999. Commitment to competition: An assessment of antitrust agency budgets since 1970. Review of Industrial Organization 14: 295–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kwoka, J. 2003. The attack on antitrust policy and consumer welfare: A response to Crandall and Winston. Working paper no. 03–008. Northeastern University.Google Scholar
  16. Lande, R. 1993. Are antitrust ‘treble’ damages really single damages? Ohio State Law Journal 54: 115–174.Google Scholar
  17. Motta, M. 2004. Competition policy: Theory and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Motta, M., and M. Polo. 2003. Leniency programs and cartel prosecution. International Journal of Industrial Organization 21: 347–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Page, W., eds. 1996. Proving antitrust damages. Chicago: American Bar Association.Google Scholar
  20. Polinsky, A., and S. Shavell. 2000. The economic theory of public enforcement of law. Journal of Economic Literature 38: 45–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Spagnolo, G. 2003. Divide et Impera: Optimal deterrence mechanisms against cartels and organized crime. Working paper. University of Mannheim.Google Scholar
  22. Sproul, M. 1993. Antitrust and prices. Journal of Political Economy 101: 741–754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Viscusi, W., J. Harrington Jr., and J. Vernon. 2005. Economics of regulation and antitrust. 4th edn. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  24. Werden, G. 2004. Comment. Journal of Economic Perspectives 18(3): 224–225.Google Scholar
  25. Werden, G., and M. Simon. 1987. Why price fixers should go to prison. Antitrust Bulletin 32: 917–937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph E. Harrington
    • 1
  1. 1.