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Abstract

We investigate the impact of competition between legal regimes on the number of authoritative acts and amount of fines occurring in rural Sierra Leone. We model state and traditional legal systems as competing authorities with a potential for overlap in their jurisdictions. We are interested in the sign and magnitude of the legal pluralism externality in this region of overlapping authority. We then test the model and estimate the size of the externality coefficient in the context of post-conflict Sierra Leone. Our results show a negative externality between regimes for civil disputes—that is, an increase in the cost of apprehending a person. We also show that there is a reduction in the amount of fines per dispute collected in this shared space. Overall, this indicates that a potential benefit to the local people from multiple competing regimes is a reduction in expected authoritative expropriation.

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