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Legal Origins

  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Andrei Shleifer

A central requirement in the design of a legal system is the protection of law enforcers from coercion by litigants through either violence or bribes. The higher the risk of coercion, the greater the need for protection and control of law enforcers by the state. This perspective explains why, in the 12 th and 13 th centuries, the relatively more peaceful England developed trials by jury, while the less peaceful France relied on state-employed judges for both collecting evidence and making decisions. Despite considerable legal evolution, these initial design choices have persisted for centuries (largely because France remained less peaceful than England), and may explain many differences between common and civil law traditions with respect to both the structure of legal systems and the observed social and economic outcomes.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8272.

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Date of creation: May 2001
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Glaeser, Edward I. and Andrei Shleifer. "Legal Origins," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2002, v107(4,Nov), 1193-1229.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8272
Note: CF LE
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  1. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Goverment," NBER Working Papers 6727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1999. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 6993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Kaplow, Louis, 1995. "A Model of the Optimal Complexity of Legal Rules," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 150-63, April.
  5. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, . "Legal Determinants of External Finance," Working Paper 19443, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  6. 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.
  7. Gary S. Becker & George J. Stigler, 1974. "Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
  8. Herschel I. Grossman, 1997. ""Make Us a King": Anarchy, Predation, and the State," NBER Working Papers 6289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andre Shleifer, 2000. "The Regulation of Entry," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1904, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  10. Edward Glaeser & Simon Johnson & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "Coase Versus The Coasians," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 853-899, August.
  11. Daniel P. Kessler & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1997. "The Role of Discretion in the Criminal Justice System," NBER Working Papers 6261, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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