What Have We Learned About Law and Development? Describing, Predicting and Assessing Legal Reforms in China

50 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2008

See all articles by Randall Peerenboom

Randall Peerenboom

La Trobe University - Faculty of Law and Management; Oxford University - Centre for Socio-Legal Studies

Date Written: February, 28 2008

Abstract

This article applies and assesses existing conceptual tools for describing, predicting and evaluating legal reforms to reforms in China. The goal is to shed light on the various pathways and methodologies of reform so as to facilitate assessment of competing reform strategies. While drawing on China for concrete examples, the discussion involves issues that are generally applicable to comparative law and the new law and development movement, and thus addresses the broader issue of what we know and don't know about legal reforms.

In general, our descriptive metaphors tend to oversimplify the reform process and fail to address the issue of prediction; our ability to predict success and failure and derive useful policy recommendations is limited by the abstractness of existing indicators for measuring rule of law, and is likely to remain limited due to the diversity and path-dependent nature of legal reforms in particular countries; and our ability to assess legal reforms meaningfully is complicated by competing and contested standards and the long timeframe for reforms to take hold. Nevertheless, there has been some progress in understanding and explaining the relationship between law and development, and further studies will continue to shed more light on the process. Accordingly, it would be a mistake to prematurely give up on the revival of law and development, just as it was a mistake for American academics to abandon ship in the earlier round of law and development in the 1960s and '70s.

Suggested Citation

Peerenboom, Randall, What Have We Learned About Law and Development? Describing, Predicting and Assessing Legal Reforms in China (February, 28 2008). Latrobe Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2008-05; Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 27, pp. 823-871, Spring 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1099521

Randall Peerenboom (Contact Author)

La Trobe University - Faculty of Law and Management ( email )

Department of Economics and Finance
Victoria 3552, 3086
Australia

Oxford University - Centre for Socio-Legal Studies

St. Cross Building
St. Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UJ
United Kingdom

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