Revisiting the Legal Origins Hypothesis: A Brief Review of the Literature

  • Daniel Oto-Peralías
  • Diego Romero-Ávila
Part of the Contributions to Economics book series (CE)


This chapter describes the foundations of the Legal Origins Theory, some of which are questioned by, among others, Rajan and Zingales (J Financ Econ 69: 5–50, 2003), Klerman et al. (J Legal Anal 3:379–409, 2011), Spamann (Rev Financ Stud 23:467–486, 2010a, J Inst Theor Econ 166:149–165, 2010b) and Oto-Peralías and Romero-Ávila (J Law Econ 57(3):561–628, 2014a, J Money Credit Bank 46(1):43–77, 2014b). Given the important policy implications of these criticisms in the lawmaking sphere—as the common law may not systematically lead to better legal rules and outcomes—, it is crucial to conduct a critical revision of the state of the literature about the Legal Origins Theory as well as to assess the impact of the new evidence from the point of view of legal reforms. Hence, the rest of the chapter categorizes all the criticisms to the Legal Origins Theory into three main blocks. A first set of criticisms builds on colonialism and the associated distribution of legal traditions, another set of criticisms is based on political economy arguments, and a third set is based on the quality and reliability of early indicators of legal rules and outcomes.


Literature review Legal origins theory Colonialism Political economy criticisms Recoding of legal data 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Oto-Peralías
    • 1
  • Diego Romero-Ávila
    • 2
  1. 1.School of ManagementUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK
  2. 2.Department of Economics, Quantitative Methods and Economic HistoryPablo de Olavide UniversitySevilleSpain

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