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Edited by Jan M. Smits
Chapter 15: Comparative law and economics*
It has been observed that ‘current comparative law on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean is almost completely devoid of economics’ (Michaels, 2009a, p. 793). On the other hand, comparative law is substantially absent from the mainstream law and economics movement. ‘Perhaps early law and economics scholars were not very interested in comparative law, possibly because their aprioristic approach to legal problems – in this respect not unlike that of natural lawyers – had little use for the actual content of, and differences among, existing legal systems’ (Michaels, 2009b, p. 199). This chapter will focus on two of the most significant attempts at crossfertilization between the two fields. The first (which goes under the label of ‘comparative law and economics’) has been developed by legal scholars, and is essentially an attempt to explain legal change through economic analysis. The second (the so-called ‘legal origins’ literature) has been developed by economists, and is an attempt to explain economic outcomes through comparative legal analysis.
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