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Legal-political factors and the historical evolution of the finance-growth link

  • BORDO, MICHAEL D.
  • ROUSSEAU, PETER L.

Recent cross-country investigations of the role of institutional fundamentals such as the protection of property rights in promoting financial development have extended a literature that has for decades maintained that financial factors can affect real outcomes. In this paper we pursue this new direction by considering relationships between finance, growth, legal origin, and political environment in a historical cross-section of 17 countries covering the period from 1880 to 1997. We find that relationships between a county's legal origin (i.e., English, French, German, or Scandinavian) and financial development are roughly consistent with earlier findings but are not persistent. At the same time, political variables such as proportional representation election systems, frequent elections, universal female suffrage, and infrequent revolutions or coups seem linked to larger financial sectors and higher conditional rates of economic growth. Despite the explanatory power of some of our measures of the deeper "fundamentals," however, a significant part of the growth-enhancing role of financial development remains unexplained by them.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal European Review of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 10 (2006)
Issue (Month): 03 (December)
Pages: 421-444

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Handle: RePEc:cup:ereveh:v:10:y:2006:i:03:p:421-444_00
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  1. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross, 1993. "Finance and growth : Schumpeter might be right," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1083, The World Bank.
  2. La Porta, Rafael & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. " Legal Determinants of External Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(3), pages 1131-50, July.
  3. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
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  5. Levine, Ross & Loayza, Norman & Beck, Thorsten, 1999. "Financial intermediation and growth : Causality and causes," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2059, The World Bank.
  6. Clive Bell & Peter L. Rousseau, 2000. "Post-Independence India: A Case of Finance-Led Industrialization?," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0019, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  7. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
  8. Thorsten Beck & Asli Demirguc-Kunt & Ross Levine, 2002. "Law and Finance: why Does Legal Origin Matter?," NBER Working Papers 9379, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Peter L. Rousseau, 2002. "Historical Perspectives on Financial Development and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 9333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Roubini, Nouriel & Swagel, Phillip & Ozler, Sule & Alesina, Alberto, 1996. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4553024, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  12. Rousseau, Peter L & Wachtel, Paul, 1998. "Financial Intermediation and Economic Performance: Historical Evidence from Five Industrialized Countries," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 30(4), pages 657-78, November.
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  17. Bruno, Michael & Easterly, William, 1995. "Inflation crises and long-run growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1517, The World Bank.
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  19. Sylla, Richard, 2002. "Financial Systems And Economic Modernization," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 277-292, June.
  20. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  21. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1994. "Sources of economic growth," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-46, June.
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  23. Naomi R. Lamoreaux & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 2004. "Legal Regime and Business's Organizational Choice: A Comparison of France and the United States," NBER Working Papers 10288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Marco Pagano & Paolo F. Volpin, 2005. "The Political Economy of Corporate Governance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1005-1030, September.
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  27. Rousseau, Peter L. & Wachtel, Paul, 2002. "Inflation thresholds and the finance-growth nexus," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 777-793, November.
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