Law and Long-Term Economic Change: A Eurasian Perspective

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Debin Ma, Jan Luiten van Zanden
Stanford University Press, 2011 - Business & Economics - 358 pages
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Recently, a growing body of work on "law and finance" and "legal origins" has highlighted the role of formal legal institutions in shaping financial institutions. However, these writings have focused largely on Europe, neglecting important non-Western traditions that prevail in a large part of the world. Law and Long-Term Economic Change brings together a group of leading scholars from economics, economic history, law, and area studies to develop a unique, global and, long-term perspective on the linkage between law and economic change.

Covering the regions of Western Europe, East and South Asia, and the Middle East, the chapters explore major themes regarding the nature and evolution of different legal regimes; their relationship with the state or organized religion; the definition and interpretation of ownership and property rights; the functioning of courts, and other mechanisms for dispute resolution and contract enforcement; and the complex dynamics of legal transplantations through processes such as colonization. The text makes clear that the development of legal traditions and institutions—as embodiments of cultural values and norms—exerts a strong effect on long-term economic change. And it demonstrates that a good understanding of legal origins around the world enriches any debate about Great Divergence in the early modern era, as well as development and underdevelopment in 19th-20th century Eurasia.


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An Editorial Introduction
Political Foundations of Private Law in Medieval Europe and Japan
A Legal Origin Perspective on the Great Divergence
4 Property Rights Land and Law in Imperial China
Intermediation and Adjudication in the Huizhou Region Anhui in SixteenthCentury China
6 Law and Economic Change in India 16001900
7 Land and Law in Colonial India
8 The Political Economy of Law and Economic Development in Islamic History
East versus West
11 Debt Litigation in Medieval Holland 1200 1350
12 The Resolution of Commercial Conflicts in Bruges Antwerp and Amsterdam 1250 1650
Rules Risks and Judges
14 The Evolution of Self and State Regulation of the London Stock Exchange 1688 1878
15 British Legal Institutions and Transaction Costs in the Early Transport Revolution

A Comparative Perspective

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About the author (2011)

Debin Ma is a faculty member of the Economic History Department at the London School of Economics. Jan Luiten van Zanden is Professor of Global Economic History at Utrecht University and President of the International Economic History Association.

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