Legal Origins

46 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2001

See all articles by Edward L. Glaeser

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Andrei Shleifer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 24, 2001

Abstract

A central requirement in the design of a legal system is the protection of law enforcers from coercion by litigants through either violence or bribes. The higher the risk of coercion, the greater the need for protection and control of law enforcers by the state. This perspective explains why, in the 12th and 13th centuries, the relatively more peaceful England developed trials by jury, while the less peaceful France relied on state-employed judges for both collecting evidence and making decisions. Despite considerable legal evolution, these initial design choices have persisted for centuries (largely because France remained less peaceful than England), and may explain many differences between common and civil law traditions with respect to both the structure of legal systems and the observed social and economic outcomes.

JEL Classification: K4, N4, N41

Suggested Citation

Glaeser, Edward L. and Shleifer, Andrei, Legal Origins (April 24, 2001). Harvard Institute of Economic Research Paper No. 1920. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=267852 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.267852

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Andrei Shleifer (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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