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The Swedish Academy Glossary (SAOL) does not list a definition for the term ‘overall assessment’. However, the term ‘overall assessment’ refers to a number of factors, aspects or perspectives that are brought together into a comprehensive assessment, an overall assessment. In this book, the word has a more specific meaning. An overall assessment means that a choice must be made between several possible decision options using certain criteria in order to achieve one or more objectives. This definition addresses both the meaning and the purpose of an overall assessment. Virtually everyone makes overall assessments on a daily basis. This might involve big, important things like purchasing a home: What is our price range? What city/neighbourhood? Running costs (taxes, maintenance, utilities)? Proximity to daycare, school and work? Renovation needs? And so on. Or the assessment might involve where the family should go on holiday. There are a few options (e.g., Spain, Bulgaria or Italy) and a number of selection criteria such as cost, climate and how child-friendly it is. Another example is buying a new car, which will be explored in detail later on. Even in such cases, there are several different options to consider when evaluating the different car models, which have different prices, different environmental performance, different collision safety and comfort levels, and so on.
A legal cycle is legislation that takes effect contingently, where contingent factors are ex ante known to fluctuate with some level of predictable regularity. Apart from broad constitutional mandate, lawmakers have historically and suboptimally responded to legal cycles with general and patchwork patterns of legislation involving repeal, amendment, and new enactment. This is true across nearly all domains of codified law. This chapter develops a normative theory of how lawmakers should respond to legal cycles by setting forth the optimal architecture of stabilization rules. Under a general set of conditions, stabilization rules work toward smoothing fluctuations in rulemaking and exert downward pressure on short-term legislative pathologies that result from cognitive bias and interest group politics. The potential of welfare-enhancing stabilization rules is discussed across banking law, budget law, environmental law, health law, national security law, and criminal sentencing. Keywords: timing rules, contingent law, legal cycles, stabilization rules, climate change, budget law, availability bias