NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Law, Endowment, and Finance

Thorsten Beck, Asli Demirguc-Kunt, Ross Levine

NBER Working Paper No. 9089
Issued in August 2002
NBER Program(s):   IFM   LE   PE

This paper assesses two theories regarding the historical determinants of international differences in financial development. The law and finance theory holds that legal traditions differ in terms of the priority they attach to protecting the rights of private investors vis-a-vis the State and this has important implications for financial development. The endowment theory argues that the disease and geographical environment influence the formation of long-lasting institutions that influence financial development. Using a sample of former colonies, we explore whether the legal system brought by colonizers and/or the initial disease/geographical endowments encountered by colonizers explain financial development today. The empirical results indicate that both the legal systems brought by colonizers and the initial endowments in the colonies are important determinants of stock market development and private property rights protection. However, initial endowments are more robustly associated with financial intermediary development than legal origin and initial endowments explain more of the cross-country variation in financial intermediary and stock market development than legal origin.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9089

Published: Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Law, endowments, and finance," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 137-181, November. citation courtesy of

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