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General Theory of Law and Development

62 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2017 Last revised: 27 Aug 2017

Yong-Shik Lee

The Law and Development Institute

Date Written: August 26, 2017


Although scholarship in law and development, which explores the relationship between law and social and economic progress, has evolved over the last four decades, this area of inquiry remains unfamiliar to many legal scholars, lawyers, and policy makers. Scholars have not yet been able to establish law and development as a robust and coherent academic field by developing a theory that systematically explains the interrelationship between law and development. This article attempts to fill this gap by presenting a general theory that defines the disciplinary parameters of law and development and explains the mechanisms by which law impacts development. The article also demonstrates the validity of the general theory by applying it to an empirical case and explaining the development process of South Korea (1962 to 1996) under its analytical framework. The concept of development, which has traditionally been associated with developing countries, may also be extended to address economic problems in developed countries today, which resulted in significant political consequences, such as the unexpected outcome of the United States’ 2016 presidential election and Britain’s referendum to exit the European Union.

Keywords: Law and Development, General Theory, Economic and Social Development, Law Reform, LFIs (law, legal frameworks, and institutions)

JEL Classification: K40, F63

Suggested Citation

Lee, Yong-Shik, General Theory of Law and Development (August 26, 2017). Cornell International Law Journal, Vol. 50, No. 3, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Y.S. Lee (Contact Author)

The Law and Development Institute ( email )

United States


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