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Raghavendra Rau

Raghavendra Rau

Toilet inequities

OBSERVER: Chicago school
Financial Times; Apr 22, 2003

The University of Chicago's Nobel-winning economists usually hog the limelight, but their colleagues in the law school appear to be muscling in. And their cutting edge work in "toilet inequities" and "parking and property" is certain to enrich the fields.

Mary Ann Case, for one, has been probing the area of women's toilets. And she tells the most recent issue of Chicago's alumni magazine that "men are almost always offered more excreting opportunities than women".

Her solution is to install airline-like toilets that could be completely enclosed and used by anyone. There is one glitch: her research shows that women prefer same-sex facilities.

Outside the ivory toilet, as it were, Richard Epstein has been examining the physical world, specifically: how long can someone who has cleared snow from a parking space claim it?

His research draws upon the Chicago tradition of "dibs", which allows a person who shovelled out a parking space to retain rights to it until the street is cleared or the snow melts. The broader legal issue, he says, is how long something can be held before it reverts to common ownership. Is this the new Chicago School?