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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.

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Paper provided by KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich in its series KOF Working papers with number 08-197.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kof:wpskof:08-197
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  1. 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 1131-50, July.
  2. Singh, Ajit & Singh, Alaka & Weisse, Bruce, 2002. "Corporate governance, competition, the new international financial architecture and large corporations in emerging markets," MPRA Paper 53665, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. 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.
  4. Ross Levine, 2002. "Bank-Based or Market-Based Financial Systems: Which is Better?," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 442, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  5. 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.
  6. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1998. "Law and Finance," Scholarly Articles 3451310, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. Stijn Claessens & Luc Laeven, 2003. "Financial Development, Property Rights, and Growth," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(6), pages 2401-2436, December.
  10. Michael Graff, 2005. "Law and Finance: Common-law and Civil-law Countries Compared," KOF Working papers 05-99, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  11. Grogan, Louise & Moers, Luc, 2001. "Growth empirics with institutional measures for transition countries," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 323-344, December.
  12. Beck, Thorsten & Levine, Ross & Loayza, Norman, 1999. "Finance and the sources of growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2057, The World Bank.
  13. Djankov, Simeon & McLiesh, Caralee & Shleifer, Andrei, 2007. "Private credit in 129 countries," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 299-329, May.
  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. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
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