Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 315–338 | Cite as

Colonization and the Rule of Law: Comparing the Effectiveness of Common Law and Civil Law Countries

  • Sandra F. JoiremanEmail author


The rule of law is one of the most important components of any explanation of cross-national differences in economic well-being. But what leads to better rule of law in a country? Using an institutional approach this paper probes the effect of legal systems in influencing the rule of law. There has long been speculation that the countries adopting English common law are better at providing legal dispute resolution than those adopting the continental forms of civil law. That speculative assessment is found to be true only in those countries that have been colonized, further analysis demonstrates that it is the effectiveness of the protection of property rights in common law systems rather than the institutions themselves that influence rule of law statistics. The paper calls for a more refined examination of legal systems which takes into consideration whether law is organically developed or transplanted.


rule of law common law civil law colonization 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics and International RelationsWheaton CollegeWheaton

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