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The essence of the legal origin hypothesis is that a country with an English legal origin provides better investor and creditor protection and experiences greater financial development; financial institutions and stock markets flourish, the general public participate more in financing investment projects of companies and so shareholding is less concentrated. The present paper examines this hypothesis on the basis of a cross-country study of 85 countries. As expected, there is some evidence of lower financial development in the less developed countries and transitional countries. It is not the English law heritage but the security of persons and goods that appears to explain the cross-country variations in financial development.
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