‘Law and Finance’ Revisited

This post is from Holger Spamann of Harvard Law School.

I have just released a working paper on the measurement of shareholder protection around the world, entitled “’Law and Finance’ Revisited” and available on SSRN here. The abstract is as follows:

The “Antidirector Rights Index” from La Porta et al.’s “Law and Finance” (1998) has been used as a measure of shareholder protection in almost 100 published studies. With articles by legal scholars questioning the accuracy of index values for several countries, I undertake a systematic study to verify these values for 46 countries with the help of local lawyers. My emphasis is on accuracy of the data; I do not change the original variable definitions. The study leads to a substantial revision: 33 of the 46 observations need to be corrected, and the correlation of corrected and original values is only .53. With accurate values, the well-known results of La Porta et al. (1997, 1998) no longer hold: accurate index values are neither distributed with significant differences between Common and Civil Law countries nor correlated with stock market size and ownership dispersion. All of the many results derived with the index will have to be revisited.

(NB: This paper is a revision of Spamann (2006).

By way of background, the cited article “Law and Finance” by La Porta, Lopez-de-Silanes, and Vishny (1998) started an entire literature of the same name. I have recently described the current state of this literature on this blog here.

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