Comparative Contract Law and Development: The Missing Link?

22 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2017 Last revised: 16 Mar 2018

See all articles by Mariana Pargendler

Mariana Pargendler

Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School at São Paulo; New York University School of Law; European Corporate Governance Institute

Date Written: January 13, 2017


Contract law has long been a favorite area of study among comparative law scholars. Economists have posited that contract institutions play a central role in economic development. Yet, in sharp contrast to the state-of-the-art in other fields (such as corporate law and bankruptcy law), the possible role of contract laws in shaping economic outcomes remains largely neglected. This essay explores the main reasons that might explain this status quo. These are: (i) the lack of meaningful variation in contract laws around the world, (ii) the triviality of contract law, (iii) the ample availability of choice of law, (iv) the U.S.-centric bias of the law-and-economics literature, (v) the lack of public data on contracting practices, and (vi) the boundaries of contract law. It concludes that, while important, these factors are ultimately insufficient to justify the scarcity of works on the economic consequences of contract law, which could be a fruitful area for future research.

Keywords: comparative contract law; contract institutions; law and development

JEL Classification: K12, L14

Suggested Citation

Pargendler, Mariana, Comparative Contract Law and Development: The Missing Link? (January 13, 2017). George Washington Law Review, Vol. 85, 2017, pp. 1717-1738, Available at SSRN:

Mariana Pargendler (Contact Author)

Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School at São Paulo ( email )

R. Rocha, 233, Bela Vista
São Paulo, 01330-000

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

European Corporate Governance Institute ( email )

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1000 Brussels

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