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Restoring Law in Comparative Law and Economics

27 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2013 Last revised: 1 Apr 2015

Lindsey D. Carson

Arnold & Porter, LLP; Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)

Date Written: July 23, 2013


This article examines the explanatory potential and limitations of the use of economic models and quantitative analytic techniques in comparative law. It suggests that the incorporation of comprehensive, rigorous legal analysis in both the design of empirical models and the interpretation of quantitative results can improve the accuracy of descriptive and prescriptive conclusions by addressing concerns related to variable selection; data selection, collection, and coding; the robustness of causal claims; and appreciation (or lack thereof) for the complex roles and functions of laws and their interactions with social norms and other institutions. This article argues that, while large-scale quantitative research methods can provide valuable information to inform policy decisions and strategies, the limitations of their explanatory and predictive powers must be acknowledged and tempered by context-specific, nuanced analysis of legal rules and systems, especially when guiding reform efforts within and across countries.

Keywords: comparative law and economics, corruption, foreign bribery, OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials, United Nations' Oil-for-Food Programme

JEL Classification: K33, K42, N40

Suggested Citation

Carson, Lindsey D., Restoring Law in Comparative Law and Economics (July 23, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Lindsey D. Carson (Contact Author)

Arnold & Porter, LLP ( email )

555 12th Street, NW
STE 900
Washington, DC 20004
United States

Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) ( email )

1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1984
United States

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