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Do the English Legal Origin Countries have more dispersed Share Ownership and more developed financial Systems?

  • Prabirjit Sarkar

The essence of the legal origin hypothesis is that a country with an English legal origin provides better investor and creditor protection and experiences greater financial development; financial institutions and stock markets flourish, the general public participate more in financing investment projects of companies and so shareholding is less concentrated. The present paper examines this hypothesis on the basis of a cross-country study of 85 countries. We find no evidence of more dispersed share ownership in the English law countries than in other countries with different legal origins irrespective of whether we adjust for the existence of transitional economies and less developed countries present in the sample. Using three indicators of development of banking and other credit institutions and four indicators of stock market developments, we also find no evidence of more developed financial systems in the English law countries. As expected, there is some evidence of lower financial development in the less developed countries and transitional countries. It is not the English law heritage but the security of persons and goods that appears to explain the cross-country variations in financial development.

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Paper provided by ESRC Centre for Business Research in its series ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers with number wp375.

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Date of creation: Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp375
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  1. Levine, Ross & Zervos, Sara, 1998. "Stock Markets, Banks, and Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 537-58, June.
  2. Antoin E. Murphy, 2004. "Corporate Ownership in France: The Importance of History," NBER Working Papers 10716, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Armour, John & Deakin, Simon & Sarkar, Prabirjit & Siems, Mathias & Singh, Ajit, 2007. "Shareholder protection and stockmarket development: an empirical test of the legal origins hypothesis," MPRA Paper 39055, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Law and finance: why does legal origin matter?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 653-675, December.
  5. Bekaert, Geert & Harvey, Campbell R. & Lundblad, Christian, 2005. "Does financial liberalization spur growth?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 3-55, July.
  6. Jeremy S. S. Edwards & Alfons J. Weichenrieder, 2004. "Ownership Concentration and Share Valuation," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 5(2), pages 143-171, 05.
  7. Musacchio, Aldo, 2008. "Can Civil Law Countries Get Good Institutions? Lessons from the History of Creditor Rights and Bond Markets in Brazil," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(01), pages 80-108, March.
  8. Sonja Fagernas & Prabirjit Sarkar & Ajit Singh, 2007. "Legal Origin, Shareholder Protection and the Stock Market: New Challenges from Time Series Analysis," WEF Working Papers 0023, ESRC World Economy and Finance Research Programme, Birkbeck, University of London.
  9. Rajan, Raghuram G. & Zingales, Luigi, 2003. "The great reversals: the politics of financial development in the twentieth century," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 5-50, July.
  10. Mathias Siems & Priya Lele, 2006. "Shareholder Protection: A Leximetric Approach," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp324, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
  11. Mathias Siems, 2007. "Shareholder Protection around the World ("Leximetric II")," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp359, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
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