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Advanced Introduction to Law and Development

Michael J. Trebilcock and Mariana Mota Prado

This book offers a concise and accessible introduction to the main themes and debates in the field of law and development. It unpacks the role of legal systems and institutions, and investigates what kinds of law and legal arrangements are perceived (correctly or not) to encourage and facilitate development.
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2 Determinants of development

Michael J. Trebilcock and Mariana Mota Prado


While the previous chapter discussed the ends of development, this chapter will focus on the means to achieve those ends, in other words, what causes development. Debates about the means of development have often reflected as much diversity of viewpoints as debates over the ends. In this chapter we provide a brief overview of a wide variety of theories regarding the means of development. At the risk of oversimplifying their differences, we have grouped these theories under three major headings: (1) economic theories, (2) cultural theories, and (3) geographic theories.

While these theories offer different and often conflicting explanations about why certain societies became rich, while others have remained or become poor, they have one common feature: they ignore or reject the idea that institutions are important for development (an idea that will be explored at greater length in Chapter 3). Ignoring or rejecting the idea that institutions matter for development challenges the idea that law or legal institutions can help promote certain development outcomes. To counter this argument, at the end of this chapter we offer a critical analysis of the often ignored institutional dimensions of these theories, which are often embedded in their policy implications.

Over the post-war period, various schools of thought concerned with economic growth have come into and out of favour, including: capital fundamentalism; dirigiste central planning; neo-Marxist dependency theory; the Washington Consensus (the neoclassical model or market fundamentalism); endogenous growth theories; and eclectic combinations of all of the foregoing.

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