Legal Reform and Good Governance: Assessing Rights and Economic Development in Chile


Lydia Brashear Tiede, University of Houston, Political Science, 447 Hoffman Hall, Houston, TX 77204-3011, USA. Telephone: (713) 743-1538; E-mail:


Legal reforms throughout Latin America have increased the transparency of the criminal justice process and improved defendants' rights. Many scholars conjecture that such reforms also improve “good governance” and by extension economic development. Paradoxically, despite such assertions, there are few quantitative studies that examine the precise effect of such legal reforms. Using original data sets, the impact of Chile's criminal law reforms on the rights of criminals and economic development is tested. The results show that Chile's criminal law reform has enhanced defendants' rights by reducing the percent of individuals incarcerated. The reform has had a positive effect on regional economic activity, but little effect on foreign direct investment at the regional level.