The Origins of the Market for Corporate Law
34 Pages Posted: 1 Jan 2020 Last revised: 24 Jan 2021
Date Written: March 3, 2020
I study the origins of the market for corporate charters and the emergence of Delaware as the leader of this market. Specifically, I assemble new data on 19th and 20th-century corporations to evaluate two widely-held beliefs: (1) the U.S. Supreme Court is responsible for enabling a national market for corporate charters in the 19th century and (2) Delaware became the leader in this market only because New Jersey (the initial leader) repealed its extremely liberal corporate laws in 1913. I argue that both claims are false: The Supreme Court always opposed a national market for corporate charters, and New Jersey’s decline began a decade before its 1913 repeal. It is more likely that the market for corporate charters emerged as a collateral consequence of interstate commerce and that New Jersey declined because Delaware and other states simply copied its laws.
Keywords: Market for corporate law, interstate commerce, federalism, New Jersey, Delaware
JEL Classification: G30, K22, N41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation