In the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, strengthening consumer protections has become a widely publicized cornerstone of financial regulatory reform in the United States and elsewhere. Less often discussed are the myriad changes in consumer protections in other sectors of the consumer economy over the past decade – in health care, food safety, tobacco and toys to name but a few. Moreover, many of the new consumer financial protections were contemplated and designed prior to the unfolding of the financial crisis. Two decades of deregulatory efforts have weakened the case for market discipline as the sole regulator of firm behavior, and proactive consumer protection policies are resurgent.

Beyond a renewed focus on consumer protection, the new regulatory environment is often characterized by innovative policymaking approaches and policy designs. Evidence-based policy based on consumer research, and recognition that consumer psychology and cognitive limits may influence policy effectiveness, are emerging issues in the design of consumer protection policies. Another is the recognition that behavioral economics may provide insights which expand the set of policy options. Increased sensitivity to the potential for policies to create unintended consequences by distorting incentives is yet another. These and other evolving aspects of the policymaking arena combine to make the new consumer protection era potentially very different from earlier eras. The full extent and consequences of the differences are nonetheless still to be determined.

The renewed public and political interest in consumer protections and the heightened interest in reshaping the regulatory landscape provide a timely opportunity to examine the new environment for consumer protection regulation. The Journal of Consumer Affairs, founded in 1967 as the first academic journal devoted to concerns of consumers in the marketplace, solicits papers that address this changing landscape to be published in a special issue. Contributions from a variety of disciplines including economics, finance, law, public policy, psychology, marketing, communications, and consumer education are welcomed. Authors may submit empirical studies or rigorous conceptual/theoretically grounded works which contain implications for consumer welfare, with research questions and implications addressed from the consumers’ point of view.

We seek research contributions that provide insights into the causal factors underlying the new consumer protection focus or specific regulatory decisions or designs; evaluate the effects and effectiveness of new regulations or regulatory approaches; or provide evidence suggesting that as-yet-untried approaches would have desirable results. We recognize that the decisions of legislative bodies and regulatory agencies make up only a portion of the consumer protection regime, with the courts affording additional protections to consumers. Legislative, regulatory, and judicial actions, the public and private actors that facilitate change, and the interrelationships between them, are all important aspects of the regulatory regime.

Submission Instructions:
Manuscripts can be submitted via to Journal of Consumer Affairs online, through ScholarOne Manuscripts (connect directly to or connect via the link on the Journal website). Style guidelines and publishing requirements can be viewed at
Submission deadline: February 15, 2013