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Law and Long-Term Economic ChangeA Eurasian Perspective$
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Debin Ma and Jan Luiten van Zanden

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780804772730

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804772730.001.0001

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Law and Economy in Traditional China

Law and Economy in Traditional China

A “Legal Origin” Perspective on the Great Divergence

(p.46) Chapter Three Law and Economy in Traditional China
Law and Long-Term Economic Change
Debin Ma
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the recent revisionist literature on Chinese legal tradition and argues that some subtle but fundamental differences between the Western and Chinese legal traditions are crucial for understanding the economic divergence in the modern era. It focuses on the comparative status of legal professionals or communities as a historical outcome of important differences in underlying political structures between China and England. It notes that the contrasts in legal regimes as revealed through the differential patterns of legal professions and jurisprudence in China and Western Europe directly impact the nature of these societies' property rights, contract enforcement, and ultimately their long-term growth trajectories.

Keywords:   Chinese legal tradition, revisionist literature, economic divergence, Western Europe, property rights

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