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Testing legal origins theory within France: Customary laws versus Roman code

David le Bris

Journal of Comparative Economics, 2019, vol. 47, issue 1, 1-30

Abstract: Before 1804, France was strictly divided in terms of legal regimes: a part was under Roman civil law while the majority of the territory was under customary laws which, as with common law, gave more flexibility to judges and fewer rights to the state. This dichotomy offers the unique opportunity to test legal origins theory free from cross-country heterogeneity. Fiscal and census data from 1801–1821 show the absence of any negative impact of the civil law either on the whole of France or when focusing on counties bordering the legal frontier. Cities were no more populous in customary areas. The same is true for the population density observed in 1793 at the parish level in Auvergne, a province in which the two regimes were entangled. Civil law even appears to have a positive effect in some specifications.

Keywords: Legal origins theory; Law and finance; Financial development; Economic development; France; Old Regime (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O43 O1 P48 N43 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2018.10.003

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