20 May 2005

Comparative Legal Institutions and Economic Development

The April 2005 issue of the Michigan Journal of International Law contains a series of papers within the broad topic of Globalization, Law and Development, based on a 2004 conference in Michigan. The Introduction by Michael Barr and Reuven Avi-Yonah is available as a University of Michigan Legal Working Paper and provides a concise overview of the various contributions.

I'd recommend these papers for the way they nuance and supplement more traditional neo-institutional law and economics approaches to the role of a 'rule of law' variable in comparative economic development (generally focusing heavily on protecting property rights and establishing an effective judicial system). So, for example, a paper by professor Michael Trebilcock and colleagues places special emphasis on the social, cultural, historical and political contexts in which law reform is supposed to take place. The authors argue that these settings make durable reform exceedingly difficult and offer suggestions on how to make such reform more effective. While their critical analysis admits at least a potential usefulness of the law and development approach, professor David Kennedy takes a more radical external perspective, argueing that "rhetoric that focuses on the importance of legal factors in development (...) frequently serves as a way of avoiding discussion of the political and distributive choices attending the development proces by linking it to a supposedly 'neutral' rule of law paradigm". Curious to see what kind of a response that'll get!!

"Globalization, Law & Development: Introduction and Overview"
Michael S. Bar and Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, University of Michigan
Document: Available from Bepress


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