Restaurant scorecards

Requiring restaurants in Los Angeles to post their cleanliness scores reduced hospital admissions for food-related illnesses by 20%, according to a study forthcoming in the Quarterly Journal of Economics. (Those with access to the Wall Street Journal can see David Wessel’s May 29 account here.) The Health Department inspections themselves were well-established; the only thing that was new was the requirement that the grades be posted. Not only did patrons shift from less-clean to more-clean restaurants, the resulting market pressure led restaurants as a group to (literally) clean up their act.

Question for the libertarians in the audience: on the facts as given, is the regulation requiring disclosure justified?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com