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Using the law to change the custom

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

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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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
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

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