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Legal-Political Factors and the Historical Evolution of the Finance-Growth Link

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  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Peter L. Rousseau

Abstract

Recent cross-country investigations of the role of institutional fundamentals such as the protection of property rights in promoting financial development have extended a literature that has for decades maintained that financial factors can affect real outcomes. In this paper we pursue this new direction by considering relationships between finance, growth, legal origin, and political environment in a historical cross-section of 17 countries covering the period from 1880 to 1997. We find that relationships between a county's legal origin (i.e., English, French, German, or Scandinavian) and financial development are roughly consistent with earlier findings but are not persistent. At the same time, political variables such as proportional representation election systems, frequent elections, universal female suffrage, and infrequent revolutions or coups seem linked to larger financial sectors and higher conditional rates of economic growth. Despite the explanatory power of some of our measures of the deeper "fundamentals," however, a significant part of the growth-enhancing role of financial development remains unexplained by them.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Bordo & Peter L. Rousseau, 2006. "Legal-Political Factors and the Historical Evolution of the Finance-Growth Link," NBER Working Papers 12035, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12035
    Note: DAE EFG LE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Peter L. Rousseau, 2003. "Historical perspectives on financial development and economic growth," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 81-106.
    2. Naomi R. Lamoreaux & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 2004. "Legal Regime and Business's Organizational Choice: A Comparison of France and the United States," NBER Working Papers 10288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Ross Levine & Norman Loayza & Thorsten Beck, 2002. "Financial Intermediation and Growth: Causality and Causes," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Leonardo Hernández & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (Se (ed.), Banking, Financial Integration, and International Crises, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 2, pages 031-084 Central Bank of Chile.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations
    • N2 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions

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