Do Small Jurisdictions Have a More Complex Law? A Numerical Experiment in Constitutional and Private Law

Alexis Albarian & Olivier Moréteau (eds.), Le droit compare et…/Comparative Law and…, Aix-en-Provence 2016, pp. 473-485

Maastricht European Private Law Institute Working Paper No. 2015/05

16 Pages Posted: 28 May 2015 Last revised: 29 Jul 2016

See all articles by Jan M. Smits

Jan M. Smits

Maastricht University Faculty of Law - Maastricht European Private Law Institute (M-EPLI)

Date Written: May 28, 2015

Abstract

It is commonly assumed that the size of a country’s population has nothing to do with the structure of the law. The law of larger jurisdictions is supposedly just as simple or complex as the law of smaller jurisdictions. However, this hypothesis has never been empirically tested. This is surprising in view of the fact that a thriving field of research in linguistics deals with the relationship between language complexity and the size of the speech community. This research shows that grammatical complexity correlates negatively with the size of the speech community: the bigger the community, the simpler the grammar. The aim of this paper, an experiment in numerical comparative law, is to investigate whether the same is true for the law. The question that it seeks to answer is whether smaller jurisdictions have a more complex law than bigger jurisdictions and, if so, how this could be explained. The material is drawn from both constitutional law and private law.

Keywords: Complexity, Size of jurisdictions, Numerical comparative law

JEL Classification: K20

Suggested Citation

Smits, Jan M., Do Small Jurisdictions Have a More Complex Law? A Numerical Experiment in Constitutional and Private Law (May 28, 2015). Alexis Albarian & Olivier Moréteau (eds.), Le droit compare et…/Comparative Law and…, Aix-en-Provence 2016, pp. 473-485; Maastricht European Private Law Institute Working Paper No. 2015/05. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2611627 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2611627

Jan M. Smits (Contact Author)

Maastricht University Faculty of Law - Maastricht European Private Law Institute (M-EPLI) ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, NL-6200 MD
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.jansmits.eu

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