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Legal institutions are critical for the development of market-based economies. This paper defines legal institutions and discusses different indicators to measure their quality and efficiency. It surveys a large historical and empirical literature showing the importance of legal institutions in explaining cross-country variation in economic development. Finally, it presents and discusses three different views of why we can observe the large cross-country variation in legal institutions, thedoi:10.2139/ssrn.1669100 fatcat:oqjlhb2mkjeaplb5b66qzv5cpe