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American Civil Law Origins: Implications for State Constitutions

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  • Daniel Berkowitz

Abstract

We examine the effect of initial legal traditions on constitutional stability in the American states. Ten states were initially settled by France, Spain, or Mexico and had developed civil law legal systems at the time of American acquisition. Although Louisiana retained civil law, the remaining nine adopted common law. Controlling for contemporaneous and initial conditions, civil law states have substantially higher levels of constitutional instability at the end of the twentieth century. We speculate that this effect is attributable to instability in property rights caused by the change in national governments and to the legacy of the civil law system. Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Berkowitz, 2005. "American Civil Law Origins: Implications for State Constitutions," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(1), pages 62-84.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:7:y:2005:i:1:p:62-84
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/aler/ahi007
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    Cited by:

    1. Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2010. "The Columbian Exchange: A History of Disease, Food, and Ideas," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 163-188, Spring.
    2. Ben-Bassat, Avi & Dahan, Momi, 2008. "Social rights in the constitution and in practice," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 103-119, March.
    3. Randall Morck & Lloyd Steier, 2005. "The Global History of Corporate Governance: An Introduction," NBER Chapters,in: A History of Corporate Governance around the World: Family Business Groups to Professional Managers, pages 1-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Chad Turner & Robert Tamura & Sean Mulholland, 2013. "How important are human capital, physical capital and total factor productivity for determining state economic growth in the United States, 1840–2000?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 319-371, December.
    5. Ben-Bassat Avi & Dahan Momi, 2016. "Constitutional Commitment to Social Security and Welfare Policy," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 165-201, March.
    6. Nathan Nunn, 2009. "The Importance of History for Economic Development," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 65-92, May.
    7. Andrei Shleifer & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Rafael La Porta, 2008. "The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 285-332, June.
    8. Richard A. Posner, 2006. "A Review of Steven Shavell's Foundations of Economic Analysis of Law," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(2), pages 405-414, June.

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