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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1955222
 
 

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Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witch Trials in France


Noel D. Johnson


George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Mark Koyama


George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

June 21, 2012

GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 11-47

Abstract:     
How is rule of law established? We address this question by exploring the causal effect of increases in fiscal capacity on the establishment of well enforced, formal, legal standards in a pre-industrial economy. Between 1550 and 1700 there were over 2,000 witch trials in France. Prosecuting a witch required a significant deviation from formal rules of evidence by local judges. Hence we exploit the significant variation across time and space in witch trials and fiscal capacity across French regions between 1550 and 1700 to show that increases in fiscal capacity caused increased adherence to the formal rule of law. As fiscal capacity increased, local judges increasingly upheld de jure rules and the frequency of witch trials declined.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 47

Keywords: Rule of Law, Witchcraft, France, Institutions, Fiscal Capacity, Legal Capacity

JEL Classification: H1, K0, K1, N0, N43, P48

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Date posted: November 6, 2011 ; Last revised: September 4, 2012

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Noel D. and Koyama, Mark, Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witch Trials in France (June 21, 2012). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 11-47. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1955222 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1955222

Contact Information

Noel D. Johnson (Contact Author)
George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
George Mason University - Mercatus Center
3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
Mark Koyama
George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
HOME PAGE: http://mason.gmu.edu/~mkoyama2/About.html
George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )
3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
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