Legal Origin or Colonial History?
Daniel M. Klerman
USC Gould School of Law
Paul G. Mahoney
University of Virginia School of Law
Harvard Law School
University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business - Finance and Business Economics Department; University of Southern California - Gould School of Law
August 2, 2011
3 Journal of Legal Analysis 379-409 (2011)
USC CLEO Research Paper No. C11-9
USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 11-16
Virginia Law and Economics Research Paper No. 2011-03
Economists have documented pervasive correlations between legal origins, modern regulation, and economic outcomes around the world. Where legal origin is exogenous, however, it is almost perfectly correlated with another set of potentially relevant background variables: the colonial policies of the European powers that spread the “origin” legal systems through the world. We attempt to disentangle these factors by exploiting the imperfect overlap of colonizer and legal origin, and looking at possible channels, such as the structure of the legal system, through which these factors might influence contemporary economic outcomes. We find strong evidence in favor of non-legal colonial explanations for economic growth. For other dependent variables, the results are mixed.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Keywords: legal origin, colonial origin, colonial history, economic growth, civil law, common law
JEL Classification: K40, N40, P50, O19, O40
Date posted: August 3, 2011 ; Last revised: December 17, 2014
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