IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Legal Origin and Financial Development: New Evidence for Old Claims? The Creditor Rights Index Revisited



The "law and finance theory" predicts that the common law system provides the best basis for financial development and economic growth, followed by Scandinavian and German origin civil law and finally French origin civil law. This paper summarises the key points of the theory as well as a number of sceptical views. Moreover, it argues that the theory faces an identification problem, since the majority of common law countries have a market-based financial system, whereas the majority of civil law countries have a bank-based financial system. Furthermore, it is shown that one of the corner stones of the law and finance theory, its proposition that a common legal tradition implies a similar set of legal rules and procedure to protect financial investors, does not hold empirically. Last but not least, it is shown that recent additions to the theory's creditor right indicators data pool are eliminating the (weak) correspondence between business law and legal family that could be found in the original data set. Accordingly, the theory's claim that creditor protection is largely determined by the legal tradition of a particular country has to be reconsidered.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Graff, 2008. "Legal Origin and Financial Development: New Evidence for Old Claims? The Creditor Rights Index Revisited," KOF Working papers 08-197, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:kof:wpskof:08-197

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Grogan, Louise & Moers, Luc, 2001. "Growth empirics with institutional measures for transition countries," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 323-344, December.
    2. Ajit Singh & Bruce Weisse & Alaka Singh, 2002. "Corporate governance, competition, the new international financial architecture and large corporations in emerging markets," Working Papers wp250, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    3. Djankov, Simeon & McLiesh, Caralee & Shleifer, Andrei, 2007. "Private credit in 129 countries," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 299-329, May.
    4. Stijn Claessens & Luc Laeven, 2003. "Financial Development, Property Rights, and Growth," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(6), pages 2401-2436, December.
    5. La Porta, Rafael & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. " Legal Determinants of External Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(3), pages 1131-1150, July.
    6. Berkowitz, Daniel & Pistor, Katharina & Richard, Jean-Francois, 2003. "Economic development, legality, and the transplant effect," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 165-195, February.
    7. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
    8. Michael Graff, 2005. "Law and Finance: Common-law and Civil-law Countries Compared," KOF Working papers 05-99, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    9. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
    10. Levine, Ross, 2002. "Bank-Based or Market-Based Financial Systems: Which Is Better?," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 398-428, October.
    11. Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Maksimovic, Vojislav, 2002. "Funding growth in bank-based and market-based financial systems: evidence from firm-level data," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 337-363, September.
    12. Beck, Thorsten & Levine, Ross & Loayza, Norman, 2000. "Finance and the sources of growth," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1-2), pages 261-300.
    13. Allen, Franklin & Gale, Douglas, 1995. "A welfare comparison of intermediaries and financial markets in Germany and the US," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 179-209, February.
    14. Michael Graff, 2006. "Myths and Truths: The "Law and Finance Theory" Revisited," KOF Working papers 06-122, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    15. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    16. repec:hrv:faseco:30728041 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. 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.
    18. Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 1999. "Bank-based and market-based financial systems - cross-country comparisons," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2143, The World Bank.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Legal Tradition; Creditor Rights;

    JEL classification:

    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • P00 - Economic Systems - - General - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kof:wpskof:08-197. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.