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Deterrence and Origin of Legal System: Evidence from 1950–1999

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  • Michael L. Smith

Abstract

This article offers evidence on legal systems' detterrence of acts that may cause harm, which extends law-and-finance literature comparing common law and civil code systems. Fatality rates from two causes are used to gauge deterrence: (1) motor vehicle accidents and (2) accidents other than motor vehicle. Both vary significantly across countries classified by origin of legal system. The data cover 50 years, offering evidence on evolution of differences over time. Findings for accidents other than motor vehicle are evidence on legal system flexibility, as the diffuse set of causes increases the difficulty of specifying harmful actions ex ante. Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

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  • Michael L. Smith, 2005. "Deterrence and Origin of Legal System: Evidence from 1950–1999," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 350-378.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:7:y:2005:i:2:p:350-378
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/aler/ahi015
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    1. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    2. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-587, May.
    3. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1999. "On the Disutility and Discounting of Imprisonment and the Theory of Deterrence," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-16, January.
    4. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye & Kaplow, Louis, 1993. "Optimal sanctions and differences in individuals' likelihood of avoiding detection," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 217-224, June.
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