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Legal Institutions, Innovation and Growth

We build a stylized model of endogenous technological change and analyze the relationship between legal institutions, innovation and growth. Two legal systems are analyzed: a rigid system, where an uncontingent law is written ex ante (before knowing the current technology) and a flexible system where law-makers select the law ex post (after observing the current technology). We show that flexible legal systems dominate in terms of welfare, amount of innovation and output growth in economies at intermediate stages of technological development -- which are periods when legal change is more needed -- while rigid legal systems are preferable at early stages of technological development, when commitment problems are more severe. For mature technologies the two legal systems are shown to be equivalent. Surprisingly, we find that rigid legal systems may induce excessive (greater than first-best) R&D investment and output growth.

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Paper provided by Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy in its series CSEF Working Papers with number 256.

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Date of creation: 03 Jul 2010
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Publication status: Published in International Economic Review, 2013, 54, pp. 937-956
Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:256
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  1. Immordino, Giovanni & Pagano, Marco & Polo, Michele, 2011. "Incentives to innovate and social harm: Laissez-faire, authorization or penalties?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 864-876, August.
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  11. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 2002. "Law and finance : why does legal origin matter?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2904, The World Bank.
  12. Comin, D. & Hobijn, B., 2003. "Cross-Country Technology Adoption: Making the Theories Face the Facts," Working Papers 03-04, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  13. Chung, Tai-Yeong, 1995. "On Strategic Commitment: Contracting versus Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 437-41, May.
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  15. B. Zorina Khan & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 2001. "The Early Development of Intellectual Property Institutions in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 233-246, Summer.
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