Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition
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Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition

Edited by Jan M. Smits

Written by leading authorities in their respective fields, the contributions in this accessible book cover and combine not only questions regarding the methodology of comparative law, but also specific areas of law (such as administrative law and criminal law) and specific topics (such as accident compensation and consideration). In addition, the Encyclopedia contains reports on a selected set of countries’ legal systems and, as a whole, presents an overview of the current state of affairs.
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Chapter 15: Comparative law and economics*

Raffaele Caterina


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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