Do Legal Origins Predict Legal Substance?

62 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2020 Last revised: 13 Feb 2021

See all articles by Anu Bradford

Anu Bradford

Columbia University - Law School

Yun-chien Chang

Academia Sinica - Institutum Iurisprudentiae (IIAS)

Adam Chilton

University of Chicago - Law School

Nuno Garoupa

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Date Written: June 10, 2020

Abstract

There is a large body of research in economics and law suggesting that the legal origins of a country—that is, whether its legal regime is based on English common law or French, German, or Nordic civil law—profoundly impacts a range of outcomes. However, the exact relationship between legal origins and legal substance has been disputed in the literature, and not fully explored with nuanced legal coding. We revisit this debate while leveraging novel cross-country datasets that provide detailed coding of two areas of laws: property and antitrust. We find that having shared legal origins strongly predicts whether countries have similar property regimes, but does little to predict whether countries have similar antitrust regimes. Our results suggest that legal origins may be an important predictor of legal substance in well-established legal regimes, but do little to explain substantive variation in more recent areas of law.

Keywords: Legal origins, legal families, colonial history, legal order, comparative law, property law, antitrust law, competition law

JEL Classification: F54, K21, K11, K00

Suggested Citation

Bradford, Anu and Chang, Yun-chien and Chilton, Adam and Garoupa, Nuno, Do Legal Origins Predict Legal Substance? (June 10, 2020). The Journal of Law & Economics, forthcoming 2021, University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 895, George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 20-08, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3521492 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3521492

Anu Bradford

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10009

Yun-chien Chang

Academia Sinica - Institutum Iurisprudentiae (IIAS) ( email )

128 Academia Sinica Rd., Sec. 2
Nankang
Taipei City, 11529
Taiwan

Adam Chilton (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.adamchilton.org

Nuno Garoupa

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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