When some present or future markets are either imperfect or incomplete, the selfish motivations of individual agents may (but not necessarily) lead to rent-seeking activities that can make society worse off. Legal activities tend to raise the costs of doing business. Moreover, because they are biased in the direction of suits by firms and consumers against other firms, they may as a whole lower profit and hence both investment and growth rates relative to what they would be without such activities. This paper uses international cross-section data to provide a simple test of this hypothesis. Despite the crudeness of the test, the small size of the sample and possible ambiguities in interpretation, the results provide a tentative confirmation of the hypothesis.
Copyright © 1986 Published by Elsevier Ltd.