Legal Equality Is Defined as Equality before

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We identify several factors that promote the emergence of equality before the law. Perhaps most important is a reduction in the level of coercive sanctions that elites can impose on citizens. Such a shift in coercive technology can occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from aligning changes in military technology, to increasing the political power of citizens, to social changes that simply make certain harsh sanctions unacceptable. The intuition of this central comparative statistic is that when sanctions are limited, the stick of coercion becomes less attractive than the carrot of cooperation, which tends society to greater elite efforts and thus greater legal equality. A direct increase in the political power of ordinary agents has similar effects. We also find that increasing marginal returns to effort (but not average returns) promotes equality before the law. This can be interpreted as a national emergency or a change in international circumstances that requires greater cooperation and investment in public goods, such as defensive modernization in Prussia, Japan, or the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire. Finally, consistent with the arguments of North et al. (2009), we show that various changes that promote the “rule of law within the elite” – either due to an increase in the size of the elite, or a change in the balance of power within the elite vis-à-vis its weaker members – also promote greater equality before the law.

It is therefore clear that legal equality is only effective to a certain extent. If these laws are not put into practice, it will not eliminate inequalities. Equality before the law is a principle of some branches of feminism. In the 19th century, gender equality before the law was a radical goal, but some later feminist views argue that formal legal equality is not enough to create real and social equality between women and men. An ideal of formal equality can punish women who do not adhere to a masculine norm, while an ideal of different treatment can reinforce gender stereotypes. [17] Essentially, the standard of legal effort (“law”) that an officer must meet to avoid coercive sanctions and the standard of community effort (“standard”) that an officer must meet to avoid enforcement in the community may differ. However, we will see that, in an effective balance, these two standards always coincide. Paragraph 1 recognizes that humanity means that each individual has legal personality. This means that everyone has the legal capacity, for example, to conduct buying and selling transactions, operate a bank account, and access government services.

It can be restricted by laws that protect people who are incapacitated due to a mental or minor state. The result is that |$frac{drho ^{ast }}{dtheta }$| is non-negative is subtle. For example, suppose you increase |$theta$| increases marginal yields while keeping average yields unchanged (case allowed by the proposal). It is intuitive that this leads to an increase of |$x^{ast }$| Duct. and |$y^{ast }$|. But why does this promote greater equality before the law – in other words, why isn`t the growing carrot of future cooperation enough to justify the resulting higher level of elite effort? Intuitively, |$theta$| Increases both the level of elite effort collectively preferred by the elite group (|$y^{ast }$|) and the level of effort that each elite agent individually finds optimal. But the latter increase still lags behind the former, because it is favored only by the increased benefits enjoyed by equilibrium elite agents, and since the initial allocation was chosen to maximize the net benefit to the elite, the implicit increase in elite efforts of these larger benefits will be small. To increase the |$y^{ast }$| , the elite must therefore collectively submit to harsher coercive sanctions.30 We now turn to the comparative statistic of how the elite`s optimal level of production and equality before the law vary according to the parameters. In the next section, we illustrate our most important static comparison results with some historical examples.

Figure 2 illustrates the logic of this result. An increase in g has no effect on elite indifference curves, but moves the line (8) to the right. The elites` indifference curves become flatter as we move to the right along a horizontal line.26 Therefore, the displacement of (8) leads to a new tangentiality that contains not only a larger y, but also a smaller y. The efforts of the lower elite then lead to a lower degree of equality before the law. The impact on equality before the law is ambiguous, as the balancing effect is that a higher endowment of elites improves their payments in the event of self-sufficiency, making deviation more tempting. To counter this increased temptation to deviate, greater equality before the law may be necessary. However, if the allocation of foundations is also socially determined – so that dissidents can be deprived of their equipment of future era – then this second effect disappears. In this case, the large elite foundations clearly reduce equality before the law. This comparative statistic (such as Proposition 9) is related to the argument by North et al. (2009) that the rule of law among elites is a precursor to the emergence of equality before the law for all individuals. Consistent with this comparative statistic (and Northet al.), several historical episodes support the idea that political changes that strengthen small elites promote greater equality before the law. For example, the Magna Carta was an agreement imposed on King John in 1215 by a group of English barons that limited their powers and ability to act without the Baron`s consent.

But the final charter was formulated as a concession by the king “to all the free men of our kingdom” and went so far as to limit the ability of landowners to impose their own serfs on forced labor (see Holt, 2015, and discussion in Acemoglu and Robinson, 2019). The rest of the document is structured as follows. Section 1 presents the model. Article 2 further characterizes the best balance for the elite under the domination of the elite, while Article 3 further characterizes the optimal degree of equality before the law from the point of view of the elite. Section 4 presents our main comparative static findings, which describe the factors that promote the emergence of equality before the law. We discuss several historical examples that illustrate our comparative static results in Section 5. Section 6 discusses some possible extensions of our model, and Section 7 concludes. All references are listed in the Appendix. One of the most important medieval English labor regulations was the Workers` Statute, enacted in the fourteenth century, which allowed landowners to force workers to work at fixed wages. In the words of historian Robert Steinfeld: “The English working arms of this period |$ldots$| have been the subject of a repressive regime of legal regulation” (2001, p. 8) and “In the 14th and 15th centuries, judges regularly ordered prison sentences for those who violated their oral employment contract by leaving before the agreed deadline” (p. 28).

This law was reaffirmed by later statutes of the sixteenth century and extended to a handful of craft trades in the eighteenth century. Steinfeld writes: “In seventeenth-century England, the almost universal legal form of consensual manual labor was not free labor, but unfree labor” (p. 3). This regime was also exported to the American colonies and formed the core of their labor law. Of course, equality before the law can be imposed on elites. Own literature (e.g. Rueschemeyer et al., 1992; Acemoglu and Robinson, 2000; 2006; Lizzeri and Persico, 2004; Fearon, 2011; Bidner and Francois, 2013) examines democratization—how political power shifts from elites to ordinary citizens—but does not focus on whether this goes hand in hand with equality before the law. We focus on cases where elites voluntarily take steps toward equality before the law, but we also discuss how political pressure on the elite influences this election and compare these two mechanisms. I think a good way to see if there is legal equality in a nation is to see if the rich and powerful are held legally responsible for their actions, just like the rest of the social classes. Several cases of defensive modernization triggered by external threats illustrate our second important comparative static finding – the response of equality before the law to an increase in the return to effort.