Law and Courts'Impact on Development and Democratization

Catalina Smulovitz

in The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199542475
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

Law and Courts'Impact on Development and Democratization


The definition and measurement of the impact of laws and courts is a subject of disagreement and uncertainties. In this article, law is understood as a public, general, and binding command enforceable through state coercion. Assessments on the effects of laws on democracy and development focus on changes in specific social indicators. The evaluation of impact relates to the availability and reliability of judicial statistics and the impact of laws depends on political and social conditions. The interaction of laws can be studied in three contextual variables: the structure and competitiveness of political systems, the structure and performance of the judiciary, and the organizational endowments of the social or political actors, such as social and labor movements that use the law. This interaction shows how and why certain conditions affect impact. It also speculates, about some additional developments that might follow from the relationships between law and these three variables.

Keywords: impact of laws; state coercion; social indicators; judicial statistics; interaction of laws; democratization

Article.  10951 words. 

Subjects: Law ; Comparative Law

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