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Law and Economy in Traditional China: A "Legal Origin" Perspective on the Great Divergence

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  • Ma, Debin

Abstract

This article offers a critical review of recent literature on Chinese legal tradition and argues that some subtle but fundamental differences between the Western and Chinese legal traditions are highly relevant to our explanation of the economic divergence in the modern era. This paper seeks to elucidate the fundamental feature of traditional Chinese legal system and the mechanism of dispute resolution within the framework of a disciplinary mode of administrative law within a bureaucratic hierarchy and intermediation within social-networks. By comparing the contrasting development of the legal professions in China and Western Europe, it reveals the importance of political institution, legal regime and the growth of jurisprudence that would ultimately affect property rights, contract enforcement and ultimately long-term growth trajectories.

Suggested Citation

  • Ma, Debin, 2011. "Law and Economy in Traditional China: A "Legal Origin" Perspective on the Great Divergence," CEPR Discussion Papers 8385, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8385
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    Cited by:

    1. Ma, Debin & Rubin, Jared, 2019. "The Paradox of Power: Principal-agent problems and administrative capacity in Imperial China (and other absolutist regimes)," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 277-294.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    adjudication; common law; disciplinary mode of justice; economic growth; great divergence; jurisprudence; law; rule of law;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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