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How Do Legal Rules Evolve? Evidence from a cross-country Comparison of Shareholder, Creditor and Worker Protection

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  • John Armour
  • Simon Deakin
  • Priya Lele
  • Mathias Siems

Abstract

Much attention has been devoted in recent literature to the claim that a country's 'legal origin' may make a difference to its pattern of financial development and more generally to its economic growth path. Proponents of this view assert that the 'family' within which a country's legal system originated-be it common law, or one of the varieties of civil law-has a significant impact upon the quality of its legal protection of shareholders, which in turn impacts upon economic growth, through the channel of firms' access to external finance. Complementary studies of creditors' rights and labour regulation have buttressed the core claim that different legal families have different dynamic properties. Specifically, common law systems are thought to be better able to respond to the changing needs of a market economy than are civilian systems. This literature has, however, largely been based upon cross-sectional studies of the quality of corporate, insolvency and labour law at particular points in the late 1990s. In this paper, we report findings based on newly constructed indices which track legal change over time in the areas of shareholder, creditor and worker protection. The indices cover five systems for the period 1970-2005: three 'parent' systems, the UK, France and Germany; the world's most developed economy, the US; and its largest democracy, India. The results cast doubt on the legal origin hypothesis in so far as they show that civil law systems have seen substantial increases in shareholder protection over the period in question. The pattern of change differs depending on the area which is being examined, with the law on creditor and worker protection demonstrating more divergence and heterogeneity than that relationg to shareholders. The results for worker protection are more consistent with the legal origin claim than in the other two cases, but this overall result conceals significant diversity within the two 'legal families', with different countries relying on different institutional mechanisms to regulate labour. Until the late 1980s the law of the five countries was diverging, but in the last 10-15 years there has been some convergence, particularly in relation to shareholder protection.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by ESRC Centre for Business Research in its series ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers with number wp382.

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Date of creation: Mar 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp382

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Chilosi, Alberto, 2010. "Stakeholder protection in corporate governance and in the legal system, the founders’ perspective, and the varieties of capitalism," MPRA Paper 25514, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Giuseppe Bertola & Anna Lo Prete, 2013. "Finance, governments, and trade," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 149(2), pages 273-294, June.
  3. Carsten Gerner-Beuerle, 2014. "Determinants of corporate governance codes," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 55828, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Deakin, S. & Sarkar, P. & Singh, A., 2011. "An End to Consensus? The Selective Impact of Corporate Law Reform on Financial Development," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp423, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
  5. Le Bris, David, 2013. "Customary versus Civil Law within Old Regime France," MPRA Paper 52123, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Harilaos Mertzanis, 2011. "The effectiveness of corporate governance policy in Greece," Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 19(3), pages 222-243, July.
  7. Eichhorst, Werner & Marx, Paul, 2010. "Whatever Works: Dualisation and the Service Economy in Bismarckian Welfare States," IZA Discussion Papers 5035, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Charron, Nicholas & Dahlström, Carl & Lapuente, Victor, 2012. "No law without a state," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 176-193.
  9. sarkar, prabirjit, 2011. "Common Law vs. Civil Law: Which System Provides More Protection to Shareholders and Creditors and Promotes Financial Development," MPRA Paper 32930, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Mathias Siems, 2009. "Shareholder, Creditor and Worker Protection: Time Series Evidence about the Differences between French, German, Idian, UK and US Law," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp381, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
  11. Aguilera, Ruth V. & Desender, Kurt A. & Kabbach de Castro, Luiz Ricardo, 2011. "A Configurational Approach to Comparative Corporate Governance," Working Papers 11-0103, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business.
  12. Themistokles Lazarides, 2011. "Corporate governance legal and regulatory framework's effectiveness in Greece: A response," Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 19(3), pages 244-253, July.
  13. Armour, J. & Deakin, S. & Mollica, V. & Siems, M.M., 2010. "Law and Financial Development: What we are learning from time-series evidence," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp399, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
  14. Deakin, S. & Sarkar, P., 2011. "Indian Labour Law and its Impact on Unemployment, 1970-2006: A leximetric study," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp428, ESRC Centre for Business Research.

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