Journal article Open Access
DeMattee, Anthony J.; Gertler, Nick; Shibaike, Takumi; Bloodgood, Elizabeth A.
Statutes and regulatory rules (henceforth “legal text”) are invaluable forms of primary data for comparative analysis of regime transitions, political participation, policy diffusion, and the realization of justice and rights. Governments carefully curate and archive their legal codes, making it possible to trace a law’s history and track its diffusion to other jurisdictions. Governments do not consistently enforce laws as they are written (Pound 1910; Law and Versteeg 2013); to understand the distinction between laws in the books and laws in action, we first must be able to read the law. Legal texts are thus invaluable for historical analysis and comparative studies, as laws in one jurisdiction can have important similarities and differences across national contexts (Glasius, Schalk, and De Lange 2020; Hummel, Gerring, and Burt 2021; Berinzon and Briggs 2019).