Corporate Ownership in France: The Importance of History
NBER Working Paper No. 10716
This paper attempts to show the importance of history in influencing the structure of corporate ownership in France. The strong concentration of family ownership in France is traced to historical weaknesses in the money and capital markets that forced families to have recourse to self-financing. The weaknesses in the money and capital markets were greatly influenced by two eighteenth century financial traumas arising from John Law's Mississippi System (1716-20) and the financing of the French Revolution through the issue of the assignats in the 1790s.These financial traumas delayed significantly the emergence of banks and the capital market. Further historical factors influencing French corporate ownership were the changes in the inheritance law system at the start of the nineteenth century and, more recently, the emphasis on a pay-as-you-go pension system.