The Distribution of Legal Traditions around the World: A Contribution to the Legal-Origins Theory

Start Page



The distribution of the common law was conditioned by a colonial strategy sensitive to the colonies’ level of endowments, exhibiting a more effective implantation of the legal system in initially sparsely populated territories with a temperate climate. This translates into a negative relationship of precolonial population density and settler mortality with legal outcomes for common-law countries. By contrast, the implantation of the French civil law was not systematically influenced by initial conditions, which is reflected in the lack of such a relationship for this legal family. The common law does not generally lead to legal outcomes superior to those provided by the French civil law when precolonial population density and/or settler mortality are high. The form of colonial rule in British colonies is found to mediate between precolonial endowments and postcolonial legal outcomes.

Full text not available in ChicagoUnbound.