Title: More laws, more growth? Theory and evidence from U.S. states, with Massimo Morelli, and Matia Vannoni.

Abstract: The relationship between legislation and growth is central in public economics.
Yet there is limited evidence on the basic question of whether more legislation leads to more or less economic growth. This paper seeks to fill this gap using panel data from U.S. states for the years 1965-1998.
We introduce a new measure of legislative detail over time, constructed from the full text of U.S. state session laws with computational-linguistics methods.
We implement a novel shift-share design for text data, where the instrument for legislation is leave-one-out legal-topic flows interacted with pre-treatment legal-topic shares.
We find that at the margin, higher legislative detail causes more economic growth.
Motivated by an incomplete-contracts model of legislative detail, we test and find that the effect is driven by clauses that specify a contingency, that the effect is concave in the pre-existing level of detail, and that the effect size is increasing with economic policy uncertainty.