Legal Reforms and Development

Posted: 17 Dec 2001

See all articles by Kevin E. Davis

Kevin E. Davis

New York University School of Law

Michael J. Trebilcock

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law


This paper canvasses the theoretical and empirical literature concerning the role that legal institutions play in development. The first part outlines six influential theoretical perspectives on development and their implications for the relationship between law and development. The second part surveys the relevant empirical literature. There is surprisingly little conclusive evidence that reforms in particular substantive areas of law such as property law, contract law and human rights law have been effective in furthering development, however conceived. There is however, evidence that enhancing the quality of institutions that enact, administer and enforce laws can have positive and significant effects. This suggests that the current wave of legal reforms must be situated in a broader agenda of public sector reform if they are to avoid the problems that led to the demise of the "law and development" movement of the 1960s.

Keywords: Law and development

JEL Classification: K00, O10

Suggested Citation

Davis, Kevin E. and Trebilcock, Michael J., Legal Reforms and Development. Third World Quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2001. Available at SSRN:

Kevin E. Davis (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
Vanderbilt Hall, Room 335
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
212-992-8843 (Phone)

Michael J. Trebilcock

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
416-978-5843 (Phone)
416-978-1279 (Fax)

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics