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Law and Economic Change in Traditional China: A Comparative Perspective

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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. By elucidating the fundamental feature of traditional Chinese legal system within the framework of a disciplinary mode of administrative justice, this article highlights the contrasting growth patterns of legal professions and legal knowledge in China and Western Europe that would ultimately affect property rights, contract enforcement and ultimately long-term growth trajectories. The paper concludes with some preliminary analysis on the inter-linkages between the historical evolution of political institution and legal regimes.

Suggested Citation

  • Ma, Debin, 2009. "Law and Economic Change in Traditional China: A Comparative Perspective," CEI Working Paper Series 2009-02, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:hitcei:2009-02
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