Here is the abstract for the paper:
The idea that free market capitalism is responsible for rising economic inequality is a populist notion increasingly espoused by public figures such as President Obama and Pope Francis. Legal institutions such as an independent judiciary, even-handed contract enforcement, and property rights are integral to a well-functioning market economy. Although a market economy generates a natural level of inequality attributable to heterogeneous characteristics of the population, it also provides opportunities for economic mobility and persons to realize the fruits of their labor. On the other hand, economies in which legal institutions only offer protection for the elite typically deny economic opportunities to the common citizen, resulting in a level of structural inequality that is far greater that the natural levels of inequality in advanced market economies (Easterly, 2007). Using land endowments and legal origins as instruments for contemporary legal institutions, this paper shows empirically that equality before the law results in greater economic equality, providing evidence of the Engerman-Sokoloff and Friedman Hypotheses.