Do Legal Origins Predict Legal Substance?
The Journal of Law & Economics, forthcoming 2021
62 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2020 Last revised: 13 Feb 2021
Date Written: June 10, 2020
There is a large body of research in economics and law suggesting that the legal origins of a country—that is, whether its legal regime is based on English common law or French, German, or Nordic civil law—profoundly impacts a range of outcomes. However, the exact relationship between legal origins and legal substance has been disputed in the literature, and not fully explored with nuanced legal coding. We revisit this debate while leveraging novel cross-country datasets that provide detailed coding of two areas of laws: property and antitrust. We find that having shared legal origins strongly predicts whether countries have similar property regimes, but does little to predict whether countries have similar antitrust regimes. Our results suggest that legal origins may be an important predictor of legal substance in well-established legal regimes, but do little to explain substantive variation in more recent areas of law.
Keywords: Legal origins, legal families, colonial history, legal order, comparative law, property law, antitrust law, competition law
JEL Classification: F54, K21, K11, K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation