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Durham Law School

Staff Profiles

Publication details for Professor Mathias Siems

Siems, Mathias (2016). Varieties of Legal Systems: Towards a New Global Taxonomy. Journal of Institutional Economics 12(03): 579-602.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Legal scholars, economists and other social scientist often refer to the idea that countries can be classified into a number of ‘legal families’ or ‘legal origins’. Yet, this research is unsatisfactory as regards the actual classifications of the legal systems of the world. It is the aim of this paper to fill this gap and to develop a more robust taxonomy of legal systems. This taxonomy is based on a new dataset of 156 countries that is subsequently analysed with tools of network analysis. Applying cluster optimisation, this paper finds that the world's legal systems can be divided into four clusters. It displays those clusters in a map, akin to the Inglehart–Welzel cultural map. It is suggested that those findings have important implications, not only for our understanding of the legal world, but also for the feasibility of legal transplants and harmonisation.