What Makes Poor Countries Poor?
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What Makes Poor Countries Poor?

Institutional Determinants of Development

Michael J. Trebilcock and Mariana Mota Prado

This important book focuses on the idea that institutions matter for development, asking what lessons we have learned from past reform efforts, and what role lawyers can play in this field.
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Chapter 1: The ends and means of development

Michael J. Trebilcock and Mariana Mota Prado


INTRODUCTION The field of development theory and practice, at least in the post-World War II years, has been dominated primarily by economists. The central thesis of this book is that much of value can be added by incorporating a legal perspective in the development discourse. Lawyers with a particular interest in the interface between law and economics and related issues of political economy may have a significant contribution to make to the development field on issues of institutional design. Law as a discipline has always been preoccupied with processes and institutions by which laws and related policies are enacted, implemented and enforced. Hence, our perspective throughout this book is a focus on the relationship between law, institutions and development, but more particularly on the challenges that developing countries face in reforming their legal institutions, given the institutional legacies of history and the problems of path dependency that these legacies engender. While, in many respects, our perspective is primarily concerned with the means of development – that is, how a society organizes itself institutionally to achieve its development objectives – one cannot entirely set to one side long-standing debates over the ends of development. In some respects, these contemporary debates are related to philosophical debates of what constitutes the good life and date back at least to the ancient Greeks. Although it is not the purpose of this chapter to provide an intellectual history of moral and political philosophy from the ancients onwards, or to espouse and defend any fully elaborated conception of...

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