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The Distribution of Legal Traditions around the World: A Contribution to the Legal-Origins Theory

Daniel Oto-Peralías and Diego Romero-Ávila ()

Journal of Law and Economics, 2014, vol. 57, issue 3, 561 - 628

Abstract: The distribution of the common law was conditioned by a colonial strategy sensitive to the colonies' level of endowments, exhibiting a more effective implantation of the legal system in initially sparsely populated territories with a temperate climate. This translates into a negative relationship of precolonial population density and settler mortality with legal outcomes for common-law countries. By contrast, the implantation of the French civil law was not systematically influenced by initial conditions, which is reflected in the lack of such a relationship for this legal family. The common law does not generally lead to legal outcomes superior to those provided by the French civil law when precolonial population density and/or settler mortality are high. The form of colonial rule in British colonies is found to mediate between precolonial endowments and postcolonial legal outcomes.

Date: 2014
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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/676556