Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Keywords

legal reform, Doing Business reports, legal origin thesis

Abstract

The legal origins thesis -- the thesis that legal origin impacts economic growth and the common law is better for economic growth than the civil law -- has created hundreds of papers and citation numbers unheard of among comparative lawyers. The Doing Business reports -- cross-country comparisons including rankings on the attractiveness of different legal systems for doing business -- have the highest circulation numbers of all World Bank Publications; even critics admit that they have been successful at inciting legal reform in many countries in the world. Yet, traditional comparative lawyers have all but ignored these developments.

The first purpose of this essay is to introduce the legal origins literature to traditional comparative law and to show important connections to the traditional themes of our discipline. A second purpose is to examine both what particular critique of this literature emerges from the knowledge of traditional comparative law and where traditional comparative law itself can learn from this literature. A third purpose, finally, is to consider the continuing relevance of comparative law. Will it be replaced by economics and statistics? Or is there a value specific to comparative law that cannot be supplanted?