Peter Neis' PhD Thesis, September 29th

September 29, 2023 Research

Peter NEIS will defend his thesis on Friday, September 29 at 3pm, by ZOOM

"Essays on Legal Institutions and Development"

Supervisor: Daniel CHEN

To attend the conference, please contact the secretariat Christelle Fotso Tatchum

Memberships are:

  • M. Daniel CHEN : Directeur de Recherche , CNRS / TSE-R, Supervisor
  • M. Clément IMBERT : Professeur d'Economie, University of Warwick, Advisor
  • M. Zaki WAHHAJ : Professeur d'Economie, School of Economics, University of Kent, Advisor
  • M. Matthieu CHEMIN : Professeur Associé d'Economie, McGill University, Advisor
  • M. Mateo MONTENEGRO : Professeur Assistant d'Economie, Université Toulouse Capitole, Examinator
  • Mme Emmanuelle AURIOL : Professeure d'Economie, Université Toulouse Capitole, Examinator


This doctoral thesis consists of three chapters that explore diverse dimensions of legal systems and their impacts on economic and social aspects.

The first chapter focuses on the transformative potential of digital legal platforms in fostering free legal search and its implications for economic development. The study focuses on Indian Kanoon, a comprehensive and free legal search engine. Using a generalized difference-in-differences empirical methodology, the chapter demonstrates that the introduction of Kanoon has enhanced access to justice, improved court efficiency, and maintained the quality of decisions. Importantly, Kanoon's emergence has resulted in substantial changes in firm finances, leading to significant positive impacts on assets, income, and expenditures, benefiting both litigating firms and the broader business landscape.

The second chapter investigates the capacity of the judiciary to enforce environmental justice in developing countries, using India as a case study. The study examines the causal effects of judicial orders on water pollution and child mortality, leveraging a comprehensive dataset spanning four decades. By exploiting the variation in predicted rulings among judges based on their history in non-environmental cases, the chapter finds that 'green' cases are temporally associated with reductions in peak toxicity levels. However, these pollution reductions do not translate into lasting improvements in neonatal and infant mortality rates. In the long term, pollution and mortality rates surpass pre-decision levels, suggesting limitations in achieving enduring environmental justice through the judiciary in high pollution settings like India.

The third chapter focuses on the impact of court efficiency on formality among firms and workers in developing countries. The study introduces judicial efficiency into an equilibrium model and identifies two primary channels through which court efficiency can influence firms' decisions. Firstly, it may directly impact a firm's productivity, creating a more favorable economic environment. Secondly, it can influence the relative cost of hiring formal versus informal labor. By combining case-level data from Indian courts with survey data on firms and workers, the chapter finds a significant positive impact of court efficiency on firm formality, primarily driven by small firms. Additionally, court efficiency reduces the proportion of casual labor in large firms but does not affect other aspects of informal labor or firms' revenues. This outcome suggests that a change in the relative cost of formal versus casual labor in formal firms is a key factor in driving these results.

Overall, this thesis provides valuable insights into the role of free legal information platforms, sheds light on the challenges and limitations of achieving environmental justice through judicial policies, and studies the importance of court efficiency in bolstering economic development. It offers a comprehensive analysis of the impacts of legal information accessibility and court efficiency on various aspects of the economy and environmental outcomes, contributing to the understanding of the complex interactions between law, governance, and development.