Call for Papers: Law and Economic Development

16 February 2007 at 10:28 am Leave a comment

| Peter Klein |

The Global Economic History Network is sponsoring a conference at Utrecht University, 21-23 September 2007, on “Law and Economic Development: a Historical Perspective. Abstracts are due 31 March 2007. From the call for papers:

This conference aims to bring a truly global and multi-disciplinaryperspective to the relationship between law and long-term economic growth. We focus on formal legal rules, procedures and institutions in the wide context of legal traditions and their relationship with contract enforcement and property rights. We aim to broaden the scope of our discussion with a global perspective that includes both Western and important non-Western legal traditions such as the Chinese, Islamic or Hindu that have been largely neglected in the”legal origin” debate.

The legal origin debate, if you’re not familiar with this literature, began with the influential paper by La Porta, Lopez-de-Silanes, Shleifer, and Vishny, “Law and Finance” (JPE, 1998). LLSV argued for a strong correlation between a nation’s financial-market development and the origin of its legal system. (English common-law countries fare the best, while countries with a legal system based on — you guessed it — French civil law are the worst.) This paper, and a series of follow-up studies by the same authors, established a new strand of literature on economic development using large, cross-country panel datasets containing various measures of legal, poltical, social, and cultural institutions.

Critics argue that financial-market development and overall economic performance are driven not by legal origin but by politics, culture, and geography, among other factors, and that LLSV oversimplify the causal relationships between institutions and growth. (The chapter by Thorsten Beck and Ross Levine in the Handbook of New Institutional Economics — which also contains a very nice chapter on the make-or-buy decision, by the way — provides a useful overview and critique of this literature.)

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Institutions.

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