Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedications

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

Two events started us down the path that has led to this book. The first was a long discussion with Ed Glaeser about his paper on legal origins in England and France during a lunch for the Carnegie Mellon University–University of Pittsburgh applied microeconomics workshop. The second was an equally long and stimulating discussion over breakfast with Stan Engerman where we discussed legal origins in the American states....

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CHAPTER ONE: Introduction

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pp. 1-15

Countries around the world exhibit striking differences in per capita income. For example, in 2008, income in the United States, Singapore, and Switzerland was roughly forty times higher than income in Nepal and Uganda. There are also differences within countries. In the United States in 2000 income in the state of Connecticut was almost twice as high as income in the state of Mississippi. In Russia, income in the city of Moscow was six and a half times higher than income...

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CHAPTER TWO: Legal Initial Conditions

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pp. 16-59

This chapter examines colonial legal systems and their effects on the balance of power between the state legislature and the state high court. Why is the balance of power important? It is important because the balance of power determines the extent to which the state high court can act as a constraint on the legislature and the elites more broadly. Establishing and maintaining an appropriate balance of power has been and remains a critical issue at both the state and the federal...

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CHAPTER THREE: Initial Conditions and State Political Competition

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pp. 60-91

This chapter investigates the relationship between five initial conditions in states—temperature, precipitation, distance to oceans, distance to rivers and lakes, and colonial legal system—and long-run levels of state political competition. State political competition is measured by examining the division of seats in the legislature between the political parties, although a number of other measures of state political competition are also examined. Figure 3.1 sketches some relationships between initial...

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CHAPTER FOUR: The Mechanism

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pp. 92-132

Initial conditions associated with trade and agriculture appear to related to state political competition. Why and how would these initial conditions have had a persistent influence on political competition? This chapter argues that these initial conditions shaped the occupational distributions of early state elites who, in turn, influenced the subsequent evolution of state political competition. Figure 4.1 provides a summary of the relationships among initial conditions, occupational homogeneity of the elite...

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CHAPTER FIVE: State Courts

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pp. 133-168

This chapter and the next chapter examine how a state’s colonial legal system and levels of political competition in the state legislature shaped the independence of judges on the state high court. Figure 5.1 illustrates the basic relationships.

The independence of judges in state high courts influences their behavior on the bench and thus economic and social outcomes. Using a sample of almost all state supreme court cases from 1995 to 1998, Shepherd (2009) found that judges facing Republican electorates...

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CHAPTER SIX: Legislatures and Courts

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pp. 169-191

This chapter examines how colonial legal origin and political competition have shaped the funding of state courts. State judicial budgets are set by the state executive and legislative branches as part of a regular state budget exercise. Judicial budgets are used to pay for staff, facilities, and other resources such as professional experts who can evaluate complex cases, as well as judicial salaries. Fisher (1998) and Rosenburg (1991) have argued that the powers that governors and legislators have to shape...

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CHAPTER SEVEN: Institutions and Outcomes

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pp. 192-202

This book has documented the persistence of state political and legal institutions, the mechanisms through which initial conditions acted on state political and legal institutions, and the reasons for persistence. The main reason that many scholars, including us, care about institutions and their persistence is because institutions affect outcomes.

Although many different outcomes might be of interest, for simplicity we focus on state per capita income. It represents...

References

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pp. 203-222

Index

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pp. 223-234