The impact of structural reforms of the judicial system: a survey

A.F. Gouveia, Sílvia Santos, Corinna Herber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


This paper surveys the literature on the impact of structural reforms of the judicial system. We focus on two key types of reforms: those enhancing the overall efficiency of the system, in terms of quantitative outcomes; and those aiming at enhancing the bankruptcy regime. In the first branch, and given the
way the existing literature is organized, we proceed in two steps. We first provide an overview of the studies linking judicial reforms with sectoral performance. We then elaborate on the effects of this improved performance on economic outcomes. In the second branch, we directly present the impact on economic outcomes, in particular concerning access to finance and
investment. In a nutshell, reforms that increase courts’ size, increase spending on information and communication technologies (ICT), improve governance
or foster education and training have a positive impact on judicial efficiency, which, in turn, promotes investment, ensures better credit and allows firms to
thrive. Concerning bankruptcy regimes, there is evidence that a more efficient system is related with a lower cost of funding and a higher amount and length of credit in the economy and consequently with more investment, innovation and entrepreneurship. These empirical results highlight the relevance of promoting judicial system reforms, as a way to ensure sustained economic growth
Original languageEnglish
Article number05/2016
Pages (from-to)1-35
JournalBoletim Mensal de Economia Portuguesa
Issue numberJunho
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • structural reforms
  • judicial system
  • bankruptcy regimes
  • economic growth


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