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Using the law to change the custom

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  • Aldashev, Gani
  • Chaara, Imane
  • Platteau, Jean-Philippe
  • Wahhaj, Zaki

Abstract

The custom often acts as a powerful hindrance to equity-increasing changes. In this paper, we present a simple model of legal dualism in which a progressive legal reform can, under certain conditions, shift the conflicting custom in the direction intended by the legislator. Formal law then acts as an outside anchor that exerts a 'magnet effect’ on the custom. We also characterize the conditions under which a moderate reform performs better than a radical one in improving the welfare of the disadvantaged sections of the population. We illustrate our insights using examples on inheritance, marriage, and divorce in Sub-Saharan Africa and India.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 97 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 182-200

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:97:y:2012:i:2:p:182-200

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

Related research

Keywords: Custom; Statutory law; Legal reform;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Gani Aldashev, 2009. "Legal institutions, political economy, and development," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(2), pages 257-270, Summer.
  2. Cervellati, Matteo & Vanin, Paolo, 2013. ""Thou Shalt Not Covet ...": Prohibitions, Temptation and Moral Values," IZA Discussion Papers 7334, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2009. "Institutional obstacles to African economic development: State, ethnicity, and custom," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 669-689, September.
  4. Chaara, Imane, 2011. "Pro-Women Legal Reform in Morocco: Is Religion an Obstacle?," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 17, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  5. Lakhani, Sadaf & Sacks, Audrey & Heltberg, Rasmus, 2014. ""They Are Not Like Us": Understanding Social Exclusion," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6784, The World Bank.
  6. Mizuno, Nobuhiro, 2013. "Political Structure as a Legacy of Indirect Colonial Rule: Bargaining between National Governments and Rural Elites in Africa," MPRA Paper 48771, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Olivier STERCK & Olivia D’AOUST, 2012. "Who Benefits from Customary Justice? Rent-seeking, Bribery and Criminality in Sub-Saharan Africa," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2012015, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).

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